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Conference 2014 | "Spiteful" Home Secretary criticised for "political" speech

The chairman of Hampshire Police Federation has said he was left "gob-smacked" by Home Secretary Theresa May's conference speech.

John Apter said the speech - in which Mrs May threatened to impose change on the Federation hours before it was due to vote on reforms - was "spiteful" and "unnecessarily political".

He added: "I was actually looking forward to hearing what the Home Secretary had to say because, prior to conference, for many months we have been demonstrating our willingness to embrace reform. We have been investing an awful lot of time to show that we are building bridges with the government."

But Mr Apter said that Wednesday's speech turned out to be a "kick in the teeth" not only for the Federation officers in the room but for the thousands of officers all over the country. He accused Mrs May of "dismantling" the bridges that were built up in the lead-up to the conference.

"I was absolutely gob-smacked by her speech. I thought it was spiteful. I thought it was unnecessarily political. I really feel let down by the Home Secretary on behalf of our members," he said.

Nevertheless, Mr Apter said he was "really pleased" to see the Federation subsequently vote for the reforms recommended in the Normington Review.

"I have long believed the Federation was not fit for purpose," he said. "We were rudderless and despite the best intentions from Steve Williams I think we were treading water."

Mr Apter added that it was "not a small decision" that had been undertaken.

"This is a massive decision," he said. "We are a big organisation and we have embraced a piece of reform that any organisation would struggle to deal with. It's going to be difficult and it's going to be a hard slog but we will get there."

The next step, he said, was to appoint a credible project director who can coordinate a "massive piece of work" in terms of implementing the reforms.

Recommendations from the Normington Review include publishing all Police Federation accounts, creating a national database of members and introducing a new National Council and National Board.


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