Reform or we’ll make you, May tells Police Federation

Home Secretary Theresa May
Home Secretary Theresa May
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THE HOME Secretary pulled no punches at the Police Federation annual conference as she told the embattled organisation it would no longer receive public funds and officers had to “face up to reality”.

In a forceful speech met by stony silence from around 2,000 Federation representatives, Theresa May warned the delegation if the staff association did not implement reform the Government would intervene.

After reeling off a list of scandals that have blighted the reputation of the police in recent years, Mrs May announced a number of changes including the end of state-funding from this August and automatic membership for the Federation.

One Federation representative told the Home Secretary after the speech he had never received “such an attack and a personal kicking” in 21 years of service.

Dressed in a tartan jacket and patent-leather Russell & Bromley shoes with bejewelled heels, Mrs May said: “The Federation was created by an Act of Parliament and it can be reformed by an Act of Parliament. If you do not change of your own accord, we will impose change on you.”

The Federation came under fire earlier this year for having around £70 million stashed in unregulated accounts.

There were murmurs through the audience after Mrs May told members: “It is not acceptable that when the Federation is sitting on vast reserves worth tens of millions of pounds, it is in receipt of public funds to pay for salaries and expenses of the chairman, general secretary and treasurer.”

The Government has already reduced funding from £320,000 to £190,000 a year, Mrs May said, adding: “But I can announce today that this funding will be stopped altogether from August.”

Funds will be directed to a new scheme called Police First, which is designed to attract the brightest young university graduates into the police.

The Home Secretary also announced that officers will no longer automatically become members of the federation, and instead will have to opt in.

And she will change the law so all the Federation’s accounts, including the so-called “number two” accounts, will be published and the organisation will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Mrs May listed a string of damning controversies surrounding the police, such as the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the review into the investigation into Stephen Lawrence and the so-called plebgate row.

As she delivered the speech, the Metropolitan Police announced that a fourth officer had been sacked for her involvement in the affair, which led to the resignation of Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell.

Members were told “it is not enough to mouth platitudes about a few bad apples” in the face of a slew of high profile scandals.

Mrs May said a third of the public do not trust officers to tell the truth.