Home Secretary made to suffer in silence for police spending cuts

Plans to cut spending on the police by 20 per cent over four years were condemned by the Police Federation

The Home Secretary endured the humiliation of being heard in deathly silence by police officers yesterday as she defended moves to slash spending on the service.

Theresa May had been braced for catcalls and boos when she appeared before the rank and file officers at the Police Federation annual conference. Instead she was forced to listen as a succession of angry delegates condemned the austerity package – and then was given the silent treatment as she refused to back down.

The encounter marks a low point in the relationship between police and the Government. Ministers have set out plans to cut spending on police by 20 per cent over four years – a move the federation claims will lead to the loss of 20,000 jobs.

Feelings are also running high over moves to cut the complex system of bonuses and overtime payments. Police are banned from striking, but protests later in the year look likely.

Ms May looked on impassively as the federation's chairman, Paul McKeever, warned: "We are careering towards what could be the meltdown of the British police service."

He accused her of failing to defend the police as Government cuts were finalised and of ignoring the advice of experienced officers.

He said: "The policing budget has been cut by almost three times that of the Ministry of Defence. And yet you tell us and the communities we serve that there will be no effect on the delivery of policing. That is sheer nonsense."

Mr McKeever received a standing ovation as he told Ms May: "We have a real concern about the way you operate – we believe you aren't listening."

Among the critics she faced was David Rathband, the constable blinded by the killer Raoul Moat, who asked her via a videolink whether she thought his £35,000 pay packet was too high. Amid loud applause for PC Rathband's comments, Mr McKeever turned to her and asked: "Home Secretary, how do you sleep at night?"

Sarah Adams, from Derbyshire police, said: "Home Secretary, how can you expect police officers and the communities we serve to ever trust you or this Government again?"

An unrepentant Ms May told the 2,000 delegates in Bournemouth: "Not all of you will like some of the decisions I have taken and not all of you will like what I have to say.

"But it is not my job to duck the difficult decisions and to tell you what you want to hear. It is my job to take the difficult decisions that are needed to get the police through these tough times and to put policing on a sustainable footing."

The Home Secretary insisted the Government was "doing everything we can to protect frontline jobs".

Challenged over the amount of taxpayers' money being spent on international aid, Ms May was greeted with laughter when she said it would help tackle terrorism on the streets of the UK.

She ended her speech by paying tribute to officers killed on duty and telling the federation they were the finest officers in the world, but she faced complete silence – in contrast to her critics.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said Ms May was "still in denial about the damage her policies are causing to police forces and communities across the country".

Mrs Cooper added: "The Home Secretary should spend more time focusing on fighting crime than fighting the police."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones