Cuts are 'eye-watering' says Scotland Yard boss; minister tells him to shut it
THE METROPOLITAN Police has been pitched into a battle with the new Tory-Liberal government over funds for fighting terrorism.
Assistant Met commissioner John Yates warned a conference of top police officers yesterday that proposed government cuts of 25% to the police budget were "eye watering" and that they would weaken defences against Al Qaeda.
Today the government hit back, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude doing a Sweeny impression and telling Yates to shut it.
"There is a special responsibility on all public servants to be really careful what we say," said Maude.
"I'd like to avoid public servants doing this kind of shroud waving in public."
To be fair to Yates, his comments were made to a closed meeting of the Association of Chief Police Officers with no journalists present, but one of the delegates spilled the beans.
Yates' comments are all the more intriguing since officially Acpo backs the government.
"In counter-terrorism, chief officers are determined to protect the frontline as much as possible, driving efficiencies, collaborating and looking at all ways of saving money while keeping the public safe," said an Acpo spokesperson.
Today's spat is just the latest in a series between the Tories and the police, going back to when London Mayor Boris Johnson forced the end of Sir Iain Blair’s reign as Commissioner. Senior officers are also unhappy with Tory plans to have elections for top police jobs.