Plans which would see the loss of hundreds of police officer posts in Lancashire in the aftermath of the riots which rocked the country last week have been branded as “bordering on criminality”.
John O’Reilly, chairman of Lancashire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers across the county, said the Government would be failing in its duty to “protect the nation” if it pressed ahead with widespread cuts to police budgets.
Current plans will mean Lancashire Police has to hack close to £42m from its budget over the next four years.
The Federation says the planned 20% across the board cuts will mean around 500 officer posts are lost in Lancashire.
Mr O’Reilly said: “Their (the Government’s) duty is to protect the people of this nation.
“If they are not going to do that, it is not right, it is not fair and it is bordering on criminality itself, I think.
“The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister need to start looking at this.”
Mr O’Reilly is also furious that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has refused to meet with the Federation’s national chairman – at the same time as she ordered the cancelling of all police leave.
The Government is continuing to insist that the planned cuts should not affect numbers on the front line.
“Our national secretary has asked for a meeting with the Home Secretary and the Home Secretary has refused,” he added.
“That is outrageous.
“I firmly believe (the riots) are not about cuts, they are about criminality.
“Lancashire are in the right position to respond to any aspect of public disorder that might occur.
“But in the future, we have got to look in there years time the nation will be down 16-24,000 officers.
“It took 16,000 police officers to bring order back to the capital city.”
The Home Secretary has also angered officers by saying she was “too busy” for a separate meeting with national Police Federation chiefs over the decision to cancel all leave in the wake of the riots.