A Liberal Democrat member has accused the Prime Minister of “bashing the police” and said British police officers think “the Conservatives have lost their way.”
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman said his party is the natural defenders of law and order and that Lib Dem values are more in tune with the police than many people think.
He will use the party’s spring conference on Saturday to step up the party’s attacks on the government over police cuts.
“It should be obvious that a party that is a defender of freedom should be the party of the police, because they protect our freedoms,” Davey told the Guardian.
According to Davey, cuts to police numbers under the Conservatives, together with the government’s Brexit stance, had alienated “soft Conservative” voters, who may now find a home with the Lib Dems.
“I’m extraordinarily worried about what’s happening to our police, both in my constituency and elsewhere. And I’ve long felt that Lib Dem values are more in tune with the police than many people think,” he added: “You have no civil liberties, or they are likely to be significantly reduced, if you don’t have good law and order.”
“Mrs May has really bashed the police; she has gone out and picked fights with them, calling them ‘scaremongering’ over police cuts, when actually they were spot on and dead right. That’s not good, when police pay was frozen for such a long time, pensions were cut, officers were lost.”
He added: “The approach of the former home secretary, now prime minister, has been pretty anti-police, really. I speak to a lot of police officers who think the Conservatives have lost their way.”
Davey, who was energy and climate change secretary in the coalition government of 2010-15, also said his party would seek an increase in police funding, with particular emphasis on community policing.
He said the police are there for “the most vulnerable,” and they’re as clear as can be, the most vulnerable, the less well off in society that are more likely to be the victims of crime.
“If you want to help them in a very material way, you need good community policing. These people don’t live in gated communities, they don’t have alarms, they don’t have complex insurance on their property. These are people who when they are victims of crime, it has a dramatic effect on their lives. So having police there is actually about creating a fairer country as well as a freer country.” he added.