There was a time when the Conservatives were seen as the party that supported the police - and enjoyed the backing of officers in return.
But somehow, David Cameron has managed to turn rank and file cops against the Tories.
Evidence for this is contained in a hard-hitting and moving report which tells the story of ordinary police officers as they struggled to cope during August's riots.
Published by West Midlands Police Federation, it was originally distributed to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the riots, and is now being sent to every MP.
By allowing police officers to talk about their experiences in their own words, three themes emerge:
- The bravery and dedication of officers who worked long hours and put their own safety at risk to protect the public
- The staunch support for the police expressed by members of the public, which appears quite at odds with the criticisms made by politicians
- The real anger felt towards David Cameron and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, after they appeared to take the credit for ending the riots, accused police officers of being inflexible and vowed to continue with devastating cuts to the police service.
In the West Midlands alone, 2,314 police jobs are being cut, including 1,250 officers, as the force attmpst to cope with budget cuts of £126 million.
Here's some of the testimony from officers in their own words, as told to the Police Federation - just a small selection of accounts from the report, but representative of the general tone of anger towards the government throughout:
We faced bricks, petrol bombs, abuse and barricades on the Soho Road en route to our burning police station at Holyhead Road. As we arrived, we formed lines and took the junctions to create a safe working area for the fire service.
Even in these situations, members of the public, and youths I might add, asked what they could do. This was amazing and I was lost for words from the offer of support.
An anonymous constable:
They started throwing missiles at us as soon as we were there. I can remember chairs, iron bars and all sorts coming towards us. I was hit by a bottle. It definitely felt like an ambush.
As we moved forward, it was only seconds before we heard gunshot. We'd heard that sound before and we knew straightaway that there was at least one gun in the crowd. We stopped and took cover behind our vehicles.
Warren, Detective Inspector:
After David Cameron's comments yesterday, I wonder why I bother. I spoke to my seven-year-old son on the 'phone last night; he was begging me to come home. This I find difficult.
I am seriously considering an alternative career; the police are not supported, nor ever likely to be supported.
We were chasing large groups of youths down dark alleyways without shields in an attempt to snatch and grab offenders. This was very scary due to the numbers of offenders, the lack of protection and the chaos.
We then, after having to convey offenders to Coventry, were back on running lines on the Soho Road after the police station was set on fire and other barricades and cars were set alight. This was intense, hot, scary, very intimidating and seemed to be like a scene from a movie.
The vans we were in came under attack on the way back to the scene of the disorder. I listened to my colleagues on the radio talking of stabbings, shootings, lootings and other mayhem, while we guarded a police station that was slowly being destroyed by fire.
Large numbers of officers remained on their feet all night, some completing shifts in excess of 20 hours long, knowing they would have to be back on duty on Tuesday. While our senior officers made decisions, our Government prevaricated. When the dust settled and we went to our beds for a few hours, our Prime Minister tells us he singlehandedly repelled the massing hordes.
I must have missed him on the front-line, but if he'd like to come back again this weekend he can stand in front of me and take the bricks and bottles instead.
It is baffling that on one hand we have the Prime Minister talking about an overhaul of the police service and how we got it wrong and on the other Theresa May communicating to a much smaller audience the fantastic model that is British policing.
I understand that this is a government under increasing pressure to reduce public spending, however, David Cameron has conducted himself without the slightest integrity.
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