September 14, 2010 / 9:36 AM / 10 years ago

Police chief warns over deep spending cuts

LONDON (Reuters) - A top police officer urged ministers on Tuesday to protect forces from the worst of the public spending cuts so they can deal with potential social and industrial unrest arising from them.

Police officers stand on duty outside the Houses of Parliament in central London, June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Chief Superintendent Derek Barnett, president of the powerful Police Superintendents’ Association, warned of “consequences” in a speech he is due to deliver at the body’s annual conference in Cheshire on Wednesday.

“In an environment of cuts across the wider public sector, we face a period where disaffection, social and industrial tensions may well rise,” he will say, according to extracts published by newspapers.

“If you do cut police funding too severely ... there will be some consequences,” he told BBC Radio on Tuesday.

In the speech Barnett will make a case for a “strong, confident, properly trained and equipped police service...”

However, he said senior officers understood the financial problems facing the government and were not scaremongering to win advantage.

“We are not trying to protect budgets or trying to protect police officers’ pay,” he said on BBC Radio.

“This is simply about pointing out to government that there are some good things that they are doing which we applaud, but equally we have to point out professionally, there are consequences to government policy,” he said.

Police forces across Britain have been drawing up the battle lines against the government’s potential deep cuts to policing budgets, the detail of which will not be known until the spending review in October.

Last week, Hampshire police outlined plans to shrink its workforce by 20 percent, the second force this month to hint at reductions, as concerns grew over the effects of cost cuts on fighting crime.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, has also added its voice to the growing concerns saying cuts could mean up to 40,000 frontline police jobs going.

Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Steve Addison

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