Response to my email about training police officers in Saudi Arabia who may use the training to torture more people
27th June 2016
Dear Mr Franklin,
Thank you for your email regarding British provision of policing training to Saudi Arabia. I appreciate hearing your views on this matter.
I am in full agreement with you that the UK should oppose torture and promote the highest standards of behaviour among the security forces of our allies and partners. l have forwarded your email to the Minister of State for Policing at the Home Office, Mr Mike Penning, to raise your concerns, and to ask him for a fuller explanation of the provision of police training to Saudi Arabia.
However, I feel obliged to inform you that I do not think it would be sensible to sever policing ties with Saudi Arabia, and other nations with human rights issues, in the way you suggest. As I said in my letter of 26th May, I think there is a danger of making the perfect the enemy of the good when dealing with matters of this kind. I believe that British training can often be one of the best ways of encouraging the security forces of other countries to adopt more humane methods and practices. Less British engagement is unlikely to make the situation better in Saudi Arabia or other states, and could well make it substantially worse.
Moreover, it is important both for regional stability and our own national and security interests that the UK maintains a good working relationship with Saudi Arabia. Saudi involvement is crucial to ending the war in Syria, and it is an «important part of the international coalition against ISIS. UK-Saudi cooperation has also helped prevent several Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks that could have resulted in substantial loss of life.I appreciate you may not be completely satisfied with my response, but i am very happy to contact the Minister on your behalf, and will write back to you and set out his response when I receive it. Thank you once again for raising your concerns with me, and please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of any further assistance