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woensdag, mei 16, 2012

Theresa May 'destroying police'

Theresa MayTheresa May is due to speak at the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth

Home Secretary Theresa May is set be warned by police officers that she is about to destroy a police service admired throughout the world.

Forces in England and Wales are experiencing budget cuts of 20% and in line for some of the most radical reforms for 30 years.

Mrs May is due to face the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth.

She is expected to tell the conference the government is standing firm and that cuts and reforms are essential.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Matt Prodger says that her speech last year was met with silent disdain.

Winsor review

The Police Federation is expected to tell her that the new measures will ruin a police service admired and replicated throughout the world.

Apart from the 20% cuts, the federation is unhappy with the government's proposed radical overhaul of pay and conditions, and a challenge to the existing model of policing with the privatisation of an increasing number of jobs.

Mrs May has previously said that police officers will still be "well remunerated" and receive "very good" pensions after the reforms are brought in.

A policing review by former rail regulator Tom Winsor proposed a fundamental shift in how the police are paid - awarding the officers who are taking the greatest risks in front line jobs while cutting payments and allowances that are not longer justified in the modern workplace.

And he also argued that the police should be professionalised. His proposals include lifting the ban on compulsory redundancies and potential pay cuts for officers who fail fitness tests.

He proposed ending retirement after 30 years service - typically meaning at 50 - and said potential high achievers should be allowed to enter at inspector level, rather than rise through the ranks.

And he called for recruits to have a minimum of three A-Levels and promotion based solely on skills - not time served.

On 10 May thousands of off-duty police officers marched in central London to protest against the cuts and the proposed change to their working conditions.

'Hypocritical' government

Speaking ahead of the march, Peter Fahy, chief constable for Greater Manchester, said the police were going to have "very difficult decisions to make" and that the cuts would be "very painful".

"We have to work with the Home Office to get the best solution for police officers," he said.

And PC Julie Nesbit, chairman of the Constables Committee of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said that police officers accepted the need for reform, but the difficulty was that the cuts were going "further and deeper" than in the rest of the public service.

"The police service is the ultimate public service and we should be treated according to that," she said.

The government is being "hypocritical", she added. "We have to take the share of the cut but we don't have the same rights" when it comes to industrial action, she said, referring to the ban on police officers being able to strike.

Home Office figures show police numbers have fallen back to about 136,000 officers, the lowest figure for a decade.


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