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Plan to cut police pay slammed by federation

Home Secretary Theresa May's warning that police officers face cuts to their pay and conditions undermines the independence of a review and will attack officers' morale, the Police Federation said today.

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the organisation which represents rank-and-file officers in England and Wales, said it was clear the Home Secretary undervalues the work of the police, despite her claims to the contrary.

"Officers will see straight through that," he said.

"She clearly undervalues what we do, despite what she says. Words are cheap, but actions speak louder. Clearly she does not value us as much as she says she does."

His comments come as Mrs May said that in any organisation where £11 billion, three-quarters of total spending, went on pay, it was clear pay would have to be considered in any reforms.

Mr Reed said officers expected to be part of the two-year public sector pay freeze, which Mrs May said would save some £350 million.

"That's a considerable sacrifice," he said.

"Officers and their families are making that sacrifice. Whatever other cuts come on top of that will have an adverse effect on morale."

He went on: "Reform is a euphemism for cuts.

"We're disappointed that she's decided to act before the Winsor review and undermine the review which we had put our trust in. She clearly has undermined that report and its independence."

Mrs May, who said she will not see the findings of the Winsor review until it is published on Tuesday, added that "extraordinary circumstances" mean the Government must reform terms and conditions to keep officers on the streets.

Previous attempts to overhaul pay and conditions have failed in the face of fierce opposition from rank-and-file officers.

The last review, carried out in June 1993 by Sir Patrick Sheehy under then-home secretary Kenneth Clarke, recommended abolishing jobs for life, introducing fixed terms of service and scrapping overtime payments.

But most of the recommendations were never implemented after a high-profile campaign by the Police Federation.

Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith also tried to save money in 2008 by rejecting a recommended pay increase - but again was forced to back down after officers marched in London.

Mr Reed said it was too early to say what actions officers may take this year.

Speaking in central London earlier, Mrs May said: "In an organisation like the police, where £11 billion - three-quarters of total spending - is on pay, there is no question that pay restraint and pay reform must form part of the package.

"And that is why I commissioned Tom Winsor to review police pay and conditions. Not because I want to make savings for the sake of it, but because I want to protect police jobs and I want to keep officers on the streets.

"No home secretary wants to cut police officers' pay packages.

"But with a record budget deficit, these are extraordinary circumstances."

She went on: "We are doing everything we can to minimise the effect of the spending reductions on pay. But we cannot avoid the fact that changes to pay and conditions have to be part of the package.

"The review's conclusions must be fair, and they must be seen to be fair.

"Police officers cannot strike - and that is not going to change. I have emphasised today just how dangerous and difficult their job is. Police officers should be rewarded fairly and reasonably for what they do.

"But the police leadership need to have the flexibility to manage their forces and protect the front line. And now, more than ever, the taxpayer needs to get a fair deal from all parts of the public sector.

"I must be clear: to make savings in any organisation where pay packages are the biggest cost, we have to look at pay."

Mrs May also called for all forces to follow the example of the Metropolitan Police in getting officers to patrol alone.

"By getting more officers to patrol alone - rather than in pairs - and by better matching resources to demand in neighbourhood policing, they are increasing officer availability to the public by 25%," she said.

"I know other forces including Gloucestershire are taking the same steps. All forces should be following their example."

And she pledged that any officers who break health and safety rules by putting themselves in harm's way to protect others will not be prosecuted.

"Arresting violent offenders, putting themselves in harm's way, going unarmed into dangerous situations - these are the sort of things that officers know could happen to them any time they put on the uniform," she said.

"Those officers who are putting themselves at risk to protect the public don't then find themselves under some form of prosecution.

"I think everybody agrees that is health and safety not being used in its correct way."

She also signalled there would be a shake-up of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

"The current structure, status and accountability arrangements of Acpo are not suitable," Mrs May said.

"Given the changes that we're doing in the police force, the leadership role they will need to take in the future is slightly different to the role they've taken in the past.

"I look forward to an Acpo which is a professional body, a leadership body, and we're talking to Acpo about the changes that might take place."

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