Theresa May accused of 'kick a cop' policy

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The Home Secretary will be accused of presiding over a "kick a cop" policy today as a police leader says her spending cuts "stink".

Theresa May faces a hostile reception as she addresses disenchanted rank and file officers who claim the 20% slash in funding will send services into meltdown.

In a sign of growing resentment on the frontline, Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, will tell her: "This isn't reform, this is revenge."

In his speech to the federation's annual conference in Bournemouth, Mr McKeever adds: "We appear to have a Home Office policy that can simply be defined as 'be kind to criminals, kick a cop'.

"Police officers can smell unfairness and under-handedness at 1,000 metres. Home Secretary, this stinks."

During his attack on the Government, Mr McKeever will question whether the cuts are "payback" after police resisted spending reforms in 1993, during the previous Conservative government.

Mr McKeever adds: "Is this really more about payback for perceived slights in the past? Home Secretary, this isn't reform, this is revenge."

Mrs May will defend the Government's cost-cutting stance despite accusations from the federation that the Government hates and "wants to destroy" the police.

Mr McKeever has already predicted the 20% cuts could be "catastrophic", sending forces into "meltdown".

"If the police service fails, there is nothing else there for communities," he added.

Services have entered a period of "doom, gloom and despondency", John Giblin, chairman of the Police Federation sergeants committee, said.

Opening the conference, 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, added that law and order was "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," she added.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the conference ministers were treating them like "punchbags".

"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".

Anger has been building since former rail regulator Tom Winsor said the most wide-ranging analysis of police pay in 30 years showed more than £1 billion of savings should be made.

Tens of thousands of officers warned this week that crime levels could soar after the cuts.

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.