Theresa May 'destroying police', warns federation
Published: 16th May 2012 03:46:22
The home secretary is "on the precipice of destroying" a police service admired throughout the world, she will be warned by rank-and-file officers.
Theresa May is due to face the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth.
It comes as forces in England and Wales are experiencing budget cuts of 20% and in line for some of the most radical reforms for 30 years.
But she is expected to tell officers the government is standing firm and that cuts and reforms are essential.
BBC home affairs correspondent Matt Prodger says that her speech last year was met with silent disdain.
The Police Federation is expected to tell her that the new measures will ruin a police service admired and replicated throughout the world.
Apart from the 20% cuts, the federation is unhappy with the government's proposed radical overhaul of pay and conditions, and a challenge to the existing model of policing with the privatisation of an increasing number of jobs.
Mrs May has previously said that police officers will still be "well remunerated" and receive "very good" pensions after the reforms are brought in.
But Paul McKeever, the federation's chairman, will tell her: "This is a bad deal for the police service.
"We have less resilience, fewer warranted officers, a weakened front line and a radically altered model of British policing.
"You are on the precipice of destroying a police service that is admired and replicated throughout the world.
"Home secretary, we are seeing proposals, things being put in place without infrastructure, that will fundamentally change the dynamics of policing.
"You cannot expect officers, those who understood the fiscal situation and accepted that some cuts were necessary, to take an unfair share of the cuts and just sit there and be content with their lot."
A policing review by former rail regulator Tom Winsor proposed a fundamental shift in how the police are paid - awarding the officers who are taking the greatest risks in front line jobs while cutting payments and allowances that are not longer justified in the modern workplace.
And he also argued that the police should be professionalised. His proposals include lifting the ban on compulsory redundancies and potential pay cuts for officers who fail fitness tests.
He proposed ending retirement after 30 years service - typically meaning at 50 - and said potential high achievers should be allowed to enter at inspector level, rather than rise through the ranks.
And he called for recruits to have a minimum of three A-Levels and promotion based solely on skills - not time served.
On 10 May thousands of off-duty police officers marched in central London to protest against the cuts and the proposed change to their working conditions.
Speaking ahead of the march, PC Julie Nesbit, chairman of the Constables Committee of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said that police officers accepted the need for reform, but the difficulty was that the cuts were going "further and deeper" than in the rest of the public service.
"The police service is the ultimate public service and we should be treated according to that," she said.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the government was cutting too far and too fast and that officers considered their forces to be "facing a cliff edge, worried that the service to the public is falling".
Home Office figures show police numbers have fallen back to about 136,000 officers, the lowest figure for a decade.
A Home Office spokesman said: "As a service spending some £14bn a year it is right for the police to make their contribution to reducing the record budget deficit.
"Existing police pay and conditions were designed more than 30 years ago which is why we asked Tom Winsor to carry out his independent review.
"We will continue to ensure that police officers are rewarded for doing an exceptional job."
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Theresa May 'destroying police', warns federation. [Online] (Updated 16 May 2012)
Available at: http://www.glasgowwired.co.uk/news.php/1428817-Theresa-May-destroying-police-warns-federation [Accessed 19th June 2013]
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