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Police Federation boss accuses Theresa May of ‘stabbing officers in the back’

The body’s chairman contrasted the PM’s actions with her words of praise for officers who dealt with the Westminster terror attack.

The Prime Minister has been accused of celebrating the police in times of crisis but then “stabbing them in the back” in the wake of the attempted Westminster terror attack.

Theresa May heralded the “formidable courage” and professionalism of the emergency services who “ran towards” danger in the wake of Tuesday’s car smash at the Houses of Parliament.

But chairman of the Police Federation John Apter said her words provoked anger among thousands of rank-and-file officers, who are currently bearing the brunt of budget cuts.

He told the Press Association: “What angers me is that in times of crisis, such as what happened yesterday on the doorstep almost of Parliament, then the Prime Minister is the first to celebrate how brilliant police officers and policing are, but in the very next breath she’s stabbing them in the back.

“The hypocrisy that comes from the Prime Minister really does stink.

“She can’t have her cake and eat it when it comes to a relationship with policing and with police officers.”

The federation, which represents 119,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, has long campaigned against budget cuts and warned that public safety is being put at risk.

Policing in some parts of the country has become unsustainable in its current format and it's had to change and that's not to provide a better service to the public, it's providing a worse service to the public John Apter, Police Federation

There is a heated row over pay levels, with the federation saying that officers have only had a 0.85% rise in real terms and that more are having to take second jobs as they struggle financially.

Mr Apter, who became federation chief two weeks ago, said Mrs May, who was home secretary from 2010 to 2016, has “shown nothing but contempt for policing and those within it”.

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Forensic officers by the car that crashed into security barriers outside the Palace of Westminster (Victoria Jones/PA)

He said: “Policing in some parts of the country has become unsustainable in its current format and it’s had to change and that’s not to provide a better service to the public, it’s providing a worse service to the public.

“When we talk about counter-terrorism there has been an increase in budget and rightly so, but the two officers who jumped out of the way of that car, they were not counter-terrorist police officers, they were average patrol officers.

“The officers who were first on the scene were not counter-terrorist officers. All of policing needs to have support.”

The Federation chief said that neighbourhood policing is being “decimated in some areas”, despite being the “bedrock of policing”.

“The interaction that we have with neighbourhood communities at a local policing level is absolutely vital for a whole range of things and certainly with counter-terrorism that is the way where you build those relationships, that trust and respect with each other.

“If that’s gone it’s going to be really hard to get back and we will suffer the consequences for it.”

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Prime Minister Theresa May poses in the garden of Downing Street with 69 officers from 40 forces ahead of the Police Bravery Awards (Police Federation/PA)

He pledged to have a tough conversation with Home Secretary Sajid Javid about how policing has been affected by cuts and the “continuous kicking” given to the service by parts of government.

Mr Apter went on Twitter on Wednesday to vent members’ anger against the Prime Minister.

Quoting a message in which she thanked the emergency services for their “immediate and courageous response”, he said: “Your thanks to those brave police officers means nothing Prime Minister.

“You can no longer show contempt for policing and to those who deliver it and expect them to accept your thanks the next day.

“That’s not how it works! Warm words are not enough.”

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