Government 'hates the police'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The Government hates and "wants to destroy" the police with savage cuts that will leave the public as the biggest losers, rank-and-file officers said today.

Services have entered a period of "doom, gloom and despondency", John Giblin, chairman of the Police Federation sergeants committee, told policing minister Nick Herbert.

As the annual federation conference began in Bournemouth, ministers stood accused of treating officers "like cattle" over the 20% budget slash.

As Mr Herbert looked on, Mr Giblin said: "I wish I was the bearer of good news this year, but we've entered a period of doom, gloom and despondency in policing."

The biggest loser "will be the public whom we all serve and have a duty to protect", he added.

Mr Giblin said: "We acknowledge that some cuts are necessary due to the parlous state of the country's finances, but we feel greatly let down that we are not considered to be a protected priority area by the Government.

"They have and will continue to spew out that much-abused mantra that we have to be more effective and efficient, but don't be fooled by this insincere, nihilist, smoke and mirrors, slash and burn policy, for it is in large parts economics and in greater part ideology.

"This Government, to put it bluntly, hate the police service and want to destroy it in order to rebuild it again, but in their image."

Julie Nesbit, of the federation, said law and order was "off the Government's agenda".

She told the conference: "When policing is asked to pay such a high price then everyone has to understand the consequences.

"Those consequences are that public safety and security are at risk, and that law and order in England and Wales is off the Government's agenda.

"When a government acts in such a cavalier manner with the safety of its citizens by ignoring those who inspect the service, we have a right to know why."

The Government "does not even know what it is cutting", she added.

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers would ask tough questions of Home Secretary Theresa May when she delivers a keynote speech tomorrow.

Crime levels may soar after the Government launches its cuts, a survey of tens of thousands of officers warned this week.

More than 98% of respondents to a federation survey said morale had fallen amid warnings of falling police numbers and possible cuts to take-home wage packets.

The Government is treating police like "punchbags" as ministers make the wrong judgments about the future of the service, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the conference.

"Police officers I've spoken to across the country want to be part of a sensible, responsible debate about improving policing for the future," she told the conference.

"But you are not punchbags. You are not material for cheap headlines. The Government should stop acting as if you are."

She repeated her prediction that the reforms were "the ingredients of the perfect storm" as she said ministers were cutting "too far, too fast".

"I believe David Cameron and Theresa May have made the wrong decisions and the wrong judgments about the future of policing - and I fear it is communities across the country who will pay the price," she added.

Ms Cooper admitted the Labour government had got it wrong on police pay in the past.

She said: "We didn't get the pay process right in 2007, and you made clear the anger officers across the country felt at the time. Not least at this conference if I remember right.

"And we did learn lessons from that. That's why the following year, the Home Secretary and the Police Federation leadership worked hard together to get a three year deal that everyone could support."