The relationship between Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and the leaders of rank-and-file police officers has deteriorated to such an extent that neither side has spoken to the other for six months, The Independent has learned.
Ms May has not held a meeting with a senior Police Federation leader since May, when more than 1,000 officers greeted her speech to the body's annual conference in Bournemouth with complete silence.
The Police Federation said that it had tried to arrange several appointments with her – in particular around the time of August's riots – but were rebuffed by her officials.
The Police Federation chairman, Paul McKeever, said that the relationship was now worse than with any other recent Home Secretary. "We've tried to see her, tried to arrange meetings, and keep getting rebuffed," he said.
"In the past I would have the mobile number of the Home Secretary and we would see them regularly – but with Ms May nothing."
Ms May is known to have been angry at her treatment by the Police Federation conference, where she endured 40 minutes of hostile questioning, including a live video link-up with PC David Rathband, the officer blinded by the killer Raoul Moat.
"I was paid £35,000 last year. Do you think it was too much?" he asked her.
Mr McKeever said: "It sometimes seems like she is trying to intentionally antagonise officers: Telling them that they're being paid too much, that they don't do enough work. There is real anger about the Government's plans for the police and they should be talking to us about that."
The Police Federation is particularly incensed by Government moves to reform officers' pay and conditions. The Home Office, in turn, accuses the federation of exaggerating a planned reductions in police numbers and stoking up public fear about the effects of such cuts. It now holds it in no more esteem than other public-sector unions.
Mr McKeever said the situation had been exacerbated by the absence of Nick Herbert, the police minister, who was on sick leave overthe summer. "We don't have a problem with Mr Herbert at all," said Mr McKeever. "He has always been helpful and engaged. But you would have thought when he was away that would be more of a reason for Ms May to meet us but... she doesn't appear to want to listen to us."
Ms May's spokesman was unavailable for comment.
May loses her diary
An officer from Scotland Yard received a stern dressing down yesterday after a copy of Theresa May's work diary was left in a concert hall. The five-page A4 document contained her private secretary's mobile phone number, and contact details of other people she was due to meet.
It revealed that the Home Secretary had a meeting arranged on Tuesday with the Chief Constable of Warwickshire, Keith Bristow, to discuss his candidacy to become head of the National Crime Agency. There were also times and venues of visits to a magistrates court open day, the opening of a furniture repair shop near Reading, a charity cabaret evening at Wentworth Golf Club and her appearance on the Anne Diamond show for Radio Berkshire.
The diary was found by the deputy editor of the magazine Police Review, Royston Martis, on a table by the entrance to the Glasgow Concert Halls on Sunday, after Mrs May had been to a National Police Memorial Day.
Home Office officials claimed there had been no security risk. But Mr Martis said: "I think there certainly were security implications. It detailed her meetings over three days, including daily visits to the gym, with the times. If it fell into the wrong hands, who knows what could have happened?"