PUBLIC funding to the Police Federation of England and Wales will be withdrawn from this summer in an announcement which has shocked North Yorkshire officers.
Speaking at the Federation’s annual meeting, Home Secretary Theresa May told members the Government would force the changes if needed.
An independent review ordered by the Federation into the operation of the organisation found 36 recommendations which it was currently considering, but Federation bosses in North Yorkshire said yesterday’s announcement, came as a surprise and showed little respect for officers.
Mrs May said: “Make no mistake – if you do not make significant progress towards the implementation of the Normington reforms and Federation does not start to turn itself around, you must not be under the impression that the Government will let things remain as they are.” Public funding to the Federation, which was £320,000 and reduced to £190,000, will now be stopped completely, with the funds going instead to Police First, which she called “a new scheme designed to attract the brightest young university graduates into the police”.
She also said police officers would now have to opt into the Federation, rather than becoming members automatically, and she would change the law to allow the Home Office to access all Federation accounts without question.
Mrs May said she would also recommend that the Federation become subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Her speech was greeted by silence from the hundreds of Federation members present.
Mike Stubbs, incoming chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Federation, said the organisation was committed to the principle of the reforms, but Mrs May’s speech demonstrated a lack of respect for officers.
He said: “The speech made by the Home Secretary was sadly indicative of the low regard in which policing is held by the current Government. Thankfully, as recent opinion polls show, the public continue to hold police officers in considerably higher regard than politicians. “It is disappointing that, having previously stated that reform of the Police Federation was a matter for the Police Federation, she has now reneged on that commitment and warned she will impose all the changes contained in the Independent Review.
Even the report’s author, Sir David Normington, is on record as saying that he did not expect all of his recommendations to be implemented.” Steve Williams, chair of the Police Federation, said: “In all honesty the comments made by the Home Secretary came as a total surprise and I was given no indication of what was going to be said. We have already indicated we are an organisation that is willing to change and it is for us to make the key decisions around reform over the next few days.”