May heckled by police officers as she tries to justify budget cuts to forces


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The Independent Online

Theresa May faced jeers and demands for her resignation as she attempted to defend police budget cuts of 20 per cent before a meeting of rank-and-file police officers yesterday.

The Home Secretary was greeted by hundreds of officers standing in silence holding banners saying "Enough is Enough" as she prepared to address the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth.

In front of some 1,000 officers, she made a forthright defence of reforms to police pay and conditions – "Let's stop pretending the police are being picked on" – and the cuts, which she described as "affordable and manageable". The response was stony, and Ms May left the stage to boos and shouts of "resign".

Her appearance comes amid growing discontent from police officers, with more than 30,000 marching through London last week to complain about proposed cuts to pay and pensions.

The reception was even more hostile than last year, when her address was greeted with silence, an uncomfortable experience for a minister from the party that likes to bill itself as a defender of law and order.

"No Home Secretary wants to come to the Police Federation conference and say they are cutting police budgets," she conceded. "But I have always said that I would say it how it is."

In his address, Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said the Home Secretary was "on the precipice of destroying" a service admired throughout the world.

Mr McKeever told the conference: "This is a bad deal for police officers, it's a bad deal for the service and most of all it's a bad deal for the British public."