Theresa May is expected to get a fierce reception tomorrow from police who took to the streets last week to protest against pay cuts and plans for privatisation.
The Home Secretary’s speech at last year’s conference of the police rank-and-file was greeted by silence - and this year feelings are running even higher. A government-commissioned report in March recommended cutting starting salaries, curtailing generous pension provisions, clearing the way for compulsory redundancies of officers, and penalising unfit ones with pay cuts.
The depth of feeling was made clear last week when more than 30,000 officers marched through central London wearing t-shirts with a picture of Mrs May saying: “Get shafted and carry on.”
There were also demands from officers for the right to strike, a form of action they have been banned from taking for nearly 100 years. “She will be asked some very hard-hitting questions,” said Paul McKeever, the chairman of the Police Federation, which represents officers up to the rank of inspector. “We don’t want any government to fail and we said we were there to help. We’ve been surprised how little regard has been given to us.”
The police service is facing budget cuts of 20 percent amid the financial squeeze and police numbers are down to their lowest in a decade at around 136,000, according to the latest police figures.
The federation has protested about what it calls the “privatisation” of police with the security firms signing multi-million pound deals to run custody suites and so-called “back office functions.”