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The True Meaning of Independence Has Been Lost

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The Police Federation of England and Wales has for some time now been raising questions about the autonomy of the recent so-called independent reports into policing by Tom Winsor.

Today's government has relentlessly and tirelessly argued that the police service needs reforming and that we must face the squeeze due to the financial pressures facing the country. The Police Federation, and indeed the officers we represent, have never shied away from sharing the burden and helping reduce the national debt. We are having our forces reshaped in order to cope with the loss of 16,000 officers over the next three years, we've lost £300million from the police budget, we've had our pension contributions increased, a two year pay freeze and a further two year capped pay.

The Police Federation on behalf of the 136,000 officers we represent entered into the negotiations on the Winsor proposals in good faith. We believed that Winsor would be true to his word and we hoped he would produce an independent report. Now that we have had time to examine the Winsor recommendations in more detail it has become abundantly clear that Tom Winsor was always working to the Prime Minister's own agenda. Can it just be an almighty coincidence that all 180 of Winsor's recommendations have been accepted by the Home Secretary? We don't believe so.

Thankfully the development of social media sites has meant that skeletons are no longer securely locked up in closets. A speech delivered by David Cameron in 2006 practically mirrors the 2011 and 2012 recommendations the so-called independent reviewer, Tom Winsor, has produced and thrust upon the greatest police service in the world. On reading the speech available here and looking through the Winsor reviews one thing is abundantly clear; police reform has never been for fiscal reasons. It has been for ideological reasons. The government and indeed their 'independent' agent have been lying to us. David Cameron clearly stipulated back in 2006 that we needed reforming for reform's sake and now he has conned the police service and the public by masking his reform package and selling them as independent recommendations.

For two years now, the Police Federation of England Wales has put up with the façade of this Government and Tom Winsor telling us we need reforming for fiscal reasons. We realised during negotiations of part one of his report when we offered a saving's package that matched those set out by Winsor but would not have a detrimental effect on individual officers or indeed service delivery. The Home Office refused to accept our package simply because our alternative plan didn't achieve the same transformation of the police service.

The Government has let us down and more importantly they have let the public down. The police service is not against reform, we have seen reform come and go in different guises under different governments since our creation. We want the Government to ask the public what they want from their police, after all the public are the police and we are the public. Dilution is already creeping in as we witness the privatisation of some services and the void of information available to the public about the effects of the current reforms to policing.

Presumably, the public still want a police officer to turn up when they phone in, has David Cameron, Theresa May forgotten to tell them that this might no longer be the case? It simply will not be possible to provide the same level of service to the communities we serve as the cuts and reforms take hold of the 43 forces throughout England and Wales.

Next month, we will see officers show their anger and dismay about what is happening to the police service. If the government is so sure that what they are doing to us is right and necessary then why aren't they standing up and shouting it from the roof tops? We will be shouting it loud and clear. Enough is enough.

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