May’s talk of reform “a euphemism for cuts”

The Police Federation has warned that Theresa May's speech on reform of the police service today was "a euphemism for cuts", and that the home secretary "does not value us as much as she says she does".

The Police Federation has warned that Theresa May’s speech on reform of the police service today was “a euphemism for cuts”, and that the home secretary “does not value us as much as she says she does”. May had claimed she was acting “to protect police jobs”, that she wanted “to keep officers on the streets” – yet this appears to have cut little ice with officers and opposition politicians.

Simon Reed, vice-chair of the Police Federation, said:

“Officers will see straight through [her remarks]… She clearly undervalues what we do, despite what she says. Words are cheap, but actions speak louder. Clearly she does not value us as much as she says she does.”

And on the two-year public sector pay freeze, he added:

“That’s a considerable sacrifice, officers and their families are making that sacrifice. Whatever other cuts come on top of that will have an adverse effect on morale…

“Reform is a euphemism for cuts. We’re disappointed that she’s decided to act before the Windsor review and undermine the review which we had put our trust in. She clearly has undermined that report and its independence.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, called May’s speech a “desperate and disingenuous attempt” to distract attention from the frontline job cuts of “around 10,000 police officers”. She said:

“The Home Secretary should be working with the police on reforms and efficiencies rather than attacking them in the newspapers and trying to make them the scapegoats for the job losses as a result of the scale and pace of these cuts.

“This speech is not about saving jobs it is about diverting attention from the fact that she has put Chief Constables in an impossible position with a 20% front loaded cut to their budgets.”

In her speech, the home secretary gave examples which she claimed would “allow more resources to be devoted to the frontline”:

“Look at Suffolk and Norfolk, where they are creating a shared service platform for their back office support functions. This will deliver savings of approximately £10 million per year from their joint budgets.

“Or look at Kent, where they are streamlining and rationalising support services, and collaborating with Essex police to make savings and allow more resources to be devoted to the frontline.

“These forces show that it is possible to make significant savings in the back office to protect and improve frontline services. Their example can and must be replicated up and down the country.”

However, in Kent, 500 police officers and 1,000 police staff have been axed; in Norfolk350 police officers and 290 police staff have been axed; and in Suffolk, 500 police officers and 1,000 police staff have been axed.

As with the armed services and the NHS, these are yet more examples of frontline cuts to public services, yet more evidence of David Cameron breaking his pre-election pledge there would be no frontline cuts.

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