The Home Secretary has come under fire after describing the current reform of the Police Service as â€œan exciting time for policingâ€.
Theresa May labelled British officers the â€œbest in the worldâ€ but added â€œit doesnâ€™t mean we donâ€™t need to reform and can’t do better”.
But she also told a BBC News programme: â€œIt is possible to cut spending, to cut budgets and improve the service. And we are seeing that in policing.
â€œThis is an exciting time for policing.
â€œI think there is a very good future ahead.â€
Her comments have been lambasted by officers from across the country who said changes to pay and conditions and heavier workloads meant morale in the service was continuing to drop.
Mrs May continued: “We have been reforming the police now for two- and-a-half years. We have got a wide range of reforms that we are putting in place. What we are now seeing is that reform is beginning to work.
“We are seeing that â€“ despite the fact that chief constables are having to cut their budgets â€“ that crime is falling, the front line is being protected and confidence is being maintained in the service that the police are providing.â€
A PC from Surrey Police, who asked not be named, said: â€œFor ‘reforming the police for two and a half years’, read ‘maintained a sustained and unjustified attack on police officers since coming into officeâ€™.
â€œTo preside over a demoralised and grossly underfunded service is certainly nothing to be proud of.â€
One PC from West Midlands Police added: â€œTheresa May needed to be on shift this weekend…madness. She has not got a clue.â€
Chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation Jon Christopher, said officers had had enough.
He added: â€œThey are really being ground down.
â€œThe fact there is a 20 per cent reduction in budget is hitting home now.
â€œOnce police officers retire they are not being replaced. That puts the onus on the officers on the street to carry out a larger workload.
â€œThe worry is that more crime will happen and crime figures will slowly rise.â€
Mrs Mayâ€™s comments come in the light of a Police Federation poll where more than 98 per cent of respondents said morale had become worse in the last year.
More than 1,000 police officers had voted in the poll.
Responding to critics, Mrs May added: “Of course we are in mid-term.
â€œThere are always some bumps along the way.â€