The police service is in “chaos” and budget cuts conflict with the Government’s duty to keep the public safe, an officers’ group said yesterday.
Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Paul McKeever, said rank and file police officers feel “deep concern and discontentment” about cuts to budgets and pensions, and pay freezes. The group, which represents constables, sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors, plans to ballot members early next year on whether to seek industrial rights for officers.
Mr McKeever said support for an online petition calling on the Government to stop changes to pensions, and a recent survey of 14,000 officers, revealed how low morale is in the service.
He said: “The recent e-petition and survey show the reality of just how low morale in the service has got, demonstrating the deep concern and discontentment officers feel over their present situation and the future of British policing – a model respected around the world.
“The low priority the Government has given to policing is leading to a service in chaos and officers demoralised by the constant assaults.
“The Government must stop, take stock of what is happening to policing and review their tactics on policing as a matter of urgency.
“The first duty of any government is the safety of the public. The demoralising actions of this Government seem to starkly conflict with this.”
The survey, carried out by the London School of Economics, found that more than half of the officers who responded were considering their future in the service.
Police forces across the country are facing budget cuts of millions of pounds over the next few years.
In London alone, the Metropolitan Police must save more than £500m, and will sell New Scotland Yard as part of the process.
While force bosses have stressed that there will be more constables than ever before after the cuts, the number of senior officers will drop.
The Home Office said pension reform is happening across the public sector and there is no justification in exempting police officers when soldiers, teachers and NHS staff will see changes as well.
A spokesman said: “Police reforms are working and latest figures show crime is continuing to fall.
“We have swept away central targets, reduced bureaucracy, and extended police powers to prosecute which will cut inefficiency, save time and taxpayers’ money and bring swifter justice.
“We congratulate police who are rising to the challenge of making further efficiency savings and providing greater value for money while continuing to protect the frontline.”