THE Wiltshire Police Federation blamed government cutbacks and “impossible” demands for the county force’s poor performance in a recent report.

The federation’s chair Phil Matthews called the Conservatives “anti-police” and suggested they were cutting policing “to the bone” while “holding police officers and the police forces they work for accountable for it, which is “beyond ironic”.

He praised the work of police officers who are “achieving the absolute best they can for victims with the tools they are given”.

Mr Matthews blamed “unrealistic and unmanageable demand on forces with little to no investment” for Wiltshire’s constabulary being placed into special measures after inspectors raised serious concerns about how the police dealt with crime, supported victims, and managed its resources.

He added: “Policing is in absolute crisis. Police and Crime Commissioners, in order to get into office, insist that certain projects are undertaken so promises are kept. The Home Office continue to dictate the priorities for policing and we must react to media events and create yet another priority for policing.

“We have squads within squads fighting the government’s agendas and not necessarily reflecting the needs of the residents of our county.

“The Chief Constable is expected to manage these tasks and objectives, with no increase in resourcing and no additional funds for new kit and technology. [The government] need to stop blaming forces for failing to achieve impossible tasks.”

The federation argued that HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services' report – and the press coverage it’s receiving – will “totally demoralise" officers who have already struggled with 12 years of pay freezes and below-inflation rises, and increased workload.

Mr Matthews added: “Our officers are working harder than they have ever done for less money than they deserve for the work they do.

“They are subject to violence and abuse on a daily basis and now they’re being told they are not good enough.

“I vouch for each and every police officer within the federated ranks in Wiltshire Police as achieving the absolute best they can for our victims with the tools they are given.”

Of the eight areas of policing graded by HMICFRS, three were inadequate and five required improvement. Some domestic abuse victims continued to remain at risk and leads in investigations were not always followed.

The Wiltshire Police Federation chair said: “To me, the task is a simple one. Back to basics. Stop all the squads. Response, Neighbourhoods, specialist investigations and specialist operations should be the only four priorities.

“I hope our Chief Constable sees this for what it is and that is a need for drastic changes in strategy and accountability. Help our cops deliver realistic and effective policing across our county. Let’s be first and best again.

“I believe our chief already has plans in motion for change in the areas mentioned in the report and I hope they are the right plans to make the changes that last, support our officers and deliver the service to our public we all joined to deliver.”