Police officers are 'breaking' because of Theresa May, says Police Federation

David Chipakupaku, news reporter

Theresa May has "damaged" the police and helped put them under "intolerable pressure", the head of the Police Federation has said.

John Apter was critical of the prime minister, both in her current role and as home secretary under David Cameron.

Speaking ahead of the Police Bravery Awards, he said the evening was "not about politics", but added: "I personally have had some real difficulties with Theresa May, both as home secretary and as prime minister."

Mr Apter is chair of the organisation that represents more than 119,000 rank and file officers in England and Wales.

He told Sky News: "I think what she sees today she [Mrs May] should reflect on because police officers... the difficulties that they've encountered over the past 10 years, the pressures that they're under, some of my colleagues are breaking because they're under intolerable pressure.

"The prime minister needs to reflect long and hard about the damage that she's done. It's tough for policing but let's hope for a better future."

When asked if he was hoping for a more positive relationship with the next prime minister, he replied: "Well it can't be any worse."

"We need a better relationship with government," he added.

"Policing needs it, the public need it, and I'm hopeful that some good will come in the future."

The Police Federation says nearly 22,000 officers have been lost since 2010, with forces "feeling the brunt of government cuts" and having to deal with increased levels of crime such as robberies, weapon possession, and violence against the person.

Mr Apter's comments came as Mrs May hosted a reception at Downing Street on Friday, with 71 officers from 40 forces honoured for their bravery.

"Time and time again our police officers put their lives on the line for our country, displaying incredible bravery and courage," said the PM.

"Their everyday acts of heroism do not go unnoticed, and I would like to extend my profound gratitude to all the nominees, and officers around the country, for their unwavering commitment to keeping our communities safe."