A Tory minister has accused the police of exaggerating the scale of job losses caused by cuts to their budgets.
Nick Hurd dismissed concerns that 10,000 officers could be lost as a result of pension changes announced at the last minute.
He told the House of Commons: “I think the number is exaggerated which is not unusual for the police”.
His comments echo claims made by Theresa May in 2015 that the Police Federation- who represent rank and file officers- were “crying wolf” over cuts.
Shadow Policing minister Louise Haigh said Mr Hurd’s comments reveals “the absolute contempt this govt holds the police in that they don’t even trust the figures the police give them.”
It comes as Police chiefs are set to sue the government over the Treasury’s recalculation of the money each force needs to pay into the police pension scheme.
Police chiefs wrote to ministers last month to warn that up to 10,000 officers’ jobs could be cut because forces face a funding shortfall of nearly £600 million over two years caused by proposed pension changes.
This is on top of the almost 5,000 officers taken off the streets since 2015 due to Tory cuts.
Forces have been told to find £165 million in 2019-20 and up to £417 million in 2020-21 as a result of the change.
Last week the Chancellor promised to cover the shortfall for the NHS for the next five years – but the government will only cover the shortfall for the first year for the other public services including the police.
But today Nick Hurd insisted that the police had been given fair warning of the changes and that the government was supporting officers.
Labour’s Louise Haigh hit back saying that police had only learnt of the recalculation two months ago.
She said: “Despite what the Prime Minister has repeatedly and shamefully told this House, that the police have known about these changes for years, police chiefs issued a public statement rebuking the Prime Minister and stating the first notification they had came in September 2018.
“So quite apart from the fact the Prime Minister should apologise to this House, the Government should apologise to the police for such rank incompetence.
“Is it any wonder now that police chiefs are taking the unprecedented step of taking the Government of today to court – without the Government giving a firm commitment today that the Government will meet the full cost of these pension changes it is inevitable that further officers will be lost next year.”
Ms Haigh added: “This Government isn’t just complacent, they are actively making it harder for the police to keep us safe. It’s time for ministers to step back from the brink and apologise for the risk they’ve taken with our safety and give the police the resources they need to fight crime.”
Home Office minister Nick Hurd dismissed the comments, telling MPs that Ms Haigh’s performance was “one of the most disgraceful pieces of shroud waving” he’d seen.
He added: “The Treasury has made quite clear there would likely be changes to the discount rate that applies to the public pensions.
“What has changed is the independent Office for Budget Responsibility projections for the future GDP growth which changes the discount rate that applies.
“That is a change I fully accept and she’s heard me say that publicly, that has resulted in an unbudgeted cost for the police of around £165 million next year. That is a serious issue, she’s heard me say that publicly.”