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She came as Home Secretary. She left as a bully.

2014 Police Federation Conference, Bournemouth, Dorset, Jason Bye, 21/05/14Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, reacts to this week’s speech by Home Secretary Theresa May.

“I am disgusted at the offensive and sustained attack on the police service in general and the Federation in-particular. Theresa May came as Home Secretary, she left as a bully.

She has cited a couple of examples where officers have fallen short on the high standards of behaviour and service that 99.99% deliver on a daily basis.

Unfortunately officers do make mistakes occasionally but Theresa May seized on these isolated incidents as a justification for wholesale reform, and it is indicative of a Government that ideologically hates the police service. This is not balanced against the thousands of positive incidents attended by officers up and down the country on a daily basis.

If we reform organisations on this basis, how many reviews of MP’s conduct, ethics and financial irregularities would have been undertaken?

Today saw a new low in the regard and respect that this Government has for the police service and have been clear and threatening in the way they will do anything to undermine the body that represents the voice of the front line.

Government has shown via Winsor that they have decided to implement changes that weakens the role of the office of constable and also remove some of the effectiveness of the body that represents them.

The speech surprised even seasoned media broadcasters in terms of the aggressive and negative vitriol delivered towards the police service and the Federation.

She initially talked of the British police service being the best model in the world. These were hollow words as she then went on to systematically undermine and denigrate the police service in general.

She criticised the lack of public trust in the police service with recent polls showing two thirds still trust the service. This figure is despite the constant negative politically motivated media stories that are not always are accurate or fair.

The irony is not lost that the overt and aggressive criticism of the police service comes from a member of a body where their public confidence languishes at 18%.

Shami Chakrabarti (director of Liberty) talked at Conference prior to the Home Secretary about overt political interference in policing in terms of PCC’s, which she described as “politician’s revenge ” on the police service.

On compulsory severance, Shami Chakrabarti highlighted the independence of the office of constable and necessity to keep politics out of policing. Clearly the Government do not agree with either of these points.

We understand and accept as a Federation there is a need for reform as per the review conducted by Sir David Normington to be more effective and deliver the best service possible for members and the public.

The change agenda was instigated by us not government. Yesterday’s threats were a cheap political trick to attempt to take the credit for our reform programme.

We embrace our reform, and we will deliver on this, but we will not be silent as a representative body, and we will always stand up for our members and issues that need to be challenged locally and nationally.”

Date posted: May 23, 2014

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