Many vital police services – from witness protection to fingerprint databasing – could collapse as a result a shake-up of crime-fighting, the president of the Association of Police Chief Officers (Acpo) will warn today.
In the opening address to the Acpo summer conference, Sir Hugh Orde will tell politicians they need a "serious reality check" if they wish to fulfil their pledge to change the face of British policing, or risk leaving the public at the mercy of criminals and terrorists.
He will tell guests, including the Home Secretary, Theresa May, that the planned changes have left police in confusion and disarray, at a time when they are faced with their greatest challenge to ensuring public safety in the 180-year history of organised policing. Sir Hugh will demand politicians "bring order to the chaos".
One of the most explosive issues is the "chaos" over what will happen to several key centralised crime-fighting weapons that he says will become "homeless and unfunded" once their parent body, the NPIA, is phased out. "Unless greater clarity emerges in the very near future, I fear that we run the risk of compromising the safety of citizens for reasons of expediency," he will say.
The reforms are among a series of measures introduced by the Home Secretary to shave £2.2bn a year from the police's national budget.