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Conference 2015 | "We will work with Home Secretary - but she must listen to us"


The Police Federation will gain nothing from walking away from the offer made by the Home Secretary to work together on the future of policing.

John Apter, Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said the service must try to build bridges with the government but that didn't mean they had to agree with everything put forward by the Home Office.

He said: "We will achieve nothing in walking away from this offer that she's made. The Conservatives are now in as a majority government - for the sake of policing and for the sake of our members I think we've got to try and build bridges with this government.

"That doesn't mean to say we have to agree with everything and roll over. And I also don't agree with the Home Secretary when she says all we do is cry wolf, because some parts of the reform, many parts of the reform, have been to the detriment of policing.

"It hasn't been a positive experience either for the service, for the officers, and indeed for the public. And if it wasn't for the Police Federation challenging, very publicly, about some of the failings of those ideas, then nobody else would.

"So I think the Federation is key in that, and if that embarrasses the Home Secretary or annoys her, then so be it, because that's our role and I think that should continue.

"We must hold the Home Secretary's feet to the fire when it comes to decision making, because I think some of the issues on reform have been short-sighted and detrimental.

"I'm not na´ve, I know it's going to be really tough. But I'd rather be engaged and involved rather than throwing insults and hand grenades from the sidelines."

But Mr Apter warned that Theresa May could "lose face" with the service by continuing to claim that budget cuts have not led to a reduction in frontline officers.

Mrs May claimed that the number of neighbourhood officers had increased overall in the past five years, during a question and answer session with delegates after her speech to conference.

Mr Apter said: "This is where the Home Secretary can lose face with the rank and file, because we know damn well that officer numbers in neighbourhoods are reduced.

"Not as much across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as it is nationally, because our Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable have committed to neighbourhood policing, but there's still been a reduction in officers.

"Neighbourhood policing is the bedrock of policing. However, there comes a point where Chief Constables have to decide what it is they're no longer going to do. My Chief Constable has not taken that plunge yet, and I am putting pressure on him, and the Police and Crime Commissioner, and saying 'we can't be all things to all people'. Not in the current financial crisis.

"What I want my Chief to do is to start deciding what it is we're not going to do, because the pressure is really on at the moment, more so than ever before. That's not me scaremongering, that's not me crying wolf, that's me being realistic. That's the facts of where we are."

 

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