Theresa May faces a hostile reception later from rank-and-file police officers, just days after they took to London’s streets to protest against pay cuts and job losses.
The Home Secretary will address the annual conference of the Police Federation in Bournemouth, a year after her last speech to the union was greeted by a stony silence.
But this year the mood is likely to be even uglier, after a Government-commissioned report in March recommended cutting starting salaries, curbing generous pension provisions, clearing the way for compulsory redundancies and penalising unfit officers with pay cuts.
The depth of feeling was made clear last week when more than 30,000 officers marched through central London wearing T-shirts with a picture of Mrs May saying: “Get shafted and carry on.”
There were also demands from officers for the right to strike, a form of action they have been banned from taking for nearly 100 years.
Paul McKeever, the chairman of the Police Federation, which represents officers up to the rank of inspector, will tell Mrs May: “This is a bad deal for the police service.
“We have less resilience, fewer warranted officers, a weakened front line and a radically altered model of British policing.
“You are on the precipice of destroying a police service that is admired and replicated throughout the world.”
The police service is facing budget cuts of 20% amid the financial squeeze and police numbers are down to their lowest in a decade at around 136,000, according to the latest police figures.
The federation has protested about what it calls the “privatisation” of police, with the security firms signing multi-million-pound deals to run custody suites and so-called “back office functions”.
At last year’s conference the absence of applause for the Home Secretary was followed by a wave of criticism, including a live video link-up with PC David Rathband , the officer who was blinded by the killer Raoul Moat and who committed suicide earlier this year.
“I was paid £35,000 last year. Do you think it was too much?,” he said.
Mrs May had to endure more than 40 minutes of highly critical questioning after her speech.
But she did not flinch from her central defence that the police were not being singled out for deeper cuts than the rest of the public sector.
“This isn’t revenge, it’s a rescue mission to bring the economy back from the brink and to make sure the police come through not just intact but better equipped for the future,” said the Home Secretary.