The Home Secretary has promised to visit police forces to get a true picture of the unacceptable level of demand facing the service.
Amber Rudd, appearing at the Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual conference for the first time today, heard of a service on its knees.
Nick Smart, West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman, told Ms Rudd: “I turned up at work this weekend to find my response inspector breaking down, going off on stress because of hundreds of unanswered calls.
“Custody looks like more like A&E. I have staff at the hospital looking after suicidal people and officers working extended hours and taking no meal breaks. That is the reality of policing day in, day out. Not just in West Yorkshire, but in the West Mids, the Met. Everywhere.”
Ms Rudd said she was “sorry to hear this description”, adding: “I have been visiting forces. I haven’t seen a situation like that.
When challenged, she conceded: “I accept your invitation to come up to West Yorkshire. I do not just sit back and listen to my advisors, I do go out and visit the places myself and I will make sure I will do if I get elected.”
A representative from Norfolk Police said: “Since I have been at this conference I have had three texts begging officers to go in on overtime. We are firefighting, we have had enough.
“I am going to guess that when you go to a force, you are going to have quite a few officers on overtime that we normally wouldn’t have and some jobs withheld so you can go on a walk around. I implore you to put in a surprise visit.”
And despite pleas for more cash, Ms Rudd would not commit to injecting more funds into the service or police pay, adding: “We made sure the police budget was protected from 2015/19. it is not good for communities if we are running a weak economy.
“I don’t want to make misleading commitments about pay. We are still living in a time when the Government is borrowing £58 billion a year. We have to get those numbers down, pay off the deficit and get back to a stronger economy.”
The Home Secretary was also booed and laughed at when she dramatically overstated how much police officers are paid.
An officer told her: “We have a force welfare fund which is a charity and we have police officers come to us for vouchers to put food on the table or put fuel in the car to come to work.”
Ms Rudd replied: “I am sorry to hear that. I understand that must be difficult. The average police officer earns about £40,000 a year.”
Simon Newport, Chairman of North Wales Police Federation, told the Home Secretary: “The starting salary for an MP is £75,000. Starting salary for officer is £19,500. We are seeing police officers using food banks and looking for help from welfare support.”
Date posted: May 22, 2017