Police Federation ‘angry and bewildered’ at Theresa May’s speech
Candidate for chair of federation speaks out after home secretary vowed to break the police organisation’s power.
One of the two candidates to be the next chair of the Police Federation has questioned whether the government wants a better police force after Theresa May delivered an uncompromising speech at its conference, in which she vowed to break the organisation’s power.
Will Riches, who is hoping to succeed Steve Williams as chair, said he was at a loss to understand the tone of the home secretary’s address in Bournemouth on Wednesday. May stunned delegates at the federation’s conference as she criticised officers for, in some instances, displaying a “contempt for the public” in their handling of sensitive cases.
Riches said that delegates had arrived at the auditorium committed to reform and in a positive frame of mind about it but were left in “anger and bewilderment” by the home secretary.
He said she had initially appeared positive before “all of a sudden the tone darkened”.
Riches insisted the federation was committed to a better and more efficient police force but that he wondered whether that was what the government wanted. “I certainly hope that my members will not feel that it’s harder to police [as a result of May’s speech],” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
In her speech, May said that if the federation did not make significant progress on implementation of the reforms recommended by Sir David Normington the government would remove control of the organisation from its leaders and impose change on it.
Hours after May’s speech, the federation voted to adopt all 36 recommendations to reform the organisation. Riches said that if he is elected chair on Friday he will deliver the reforms recommended by Normington’s review