Surrey's police and crime commissioner has accused the Home Secretary’s of deliberately damaging police morale to further her political ambitions.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Epsom Guardian, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley launching a stinging attack against Theresa May and the Government's cuts to police budgets.
Kevin Hurley compared Theresa May to an "insurance salesman"
Mr Hurley said: "I ask myself, why did the Home Secretary deliberately attempt to appear as some strong woman battering police to submission? "
"Why would a Home Secretary take such an opposite view to Boris Johnson? I think your readers know."
Theresa May stormed ahead of London Mayor Boris Johnson in a Conservative leadership poll after her steely speech to the Police Federation last month.
In the speech she said "following the list of recent revelations about police misconduct, it is not enough to mouth platitudes about "a few bad apples". We should never accept a situation in which a third of people do not trust police officers to tell the truth."
Kevin Hurley claimed Boris Johnson was a better friend to the police than Theresa May
In contrast he said Mr Johnson praises and supports the police, adding: "It’s a good job the current Prime Minister has got two shoulders to look over.
"I’m very disappointed that a perception could be created, and it certainly has been in me, that our safety, which is maintained by the morale of the police, is being put at risk on the altar of someone’s personal political ambition."
He said the constant "knocking and kicking" of police by politicians was demoralising for officers and by extension made the public less safe.
He said: "When you wake up in the middle of the night and hear someone out in the back garden and call the police, do you want a demoralised, demotivated police officer or do you want one that is hungry to catch criminals?"
He cited a survey that shows nearly 70 per cent of people have trust in the police but only about 15 per cent have trust in politicians.
He said: "The Home Secretary is making the same mistake as a new insurance salesman who slags off some other company’s policy in the hope they buy from you.
"By criticising the judgement of 70 per cent of the public, who say they have confidence in the police, she is actually criticising their judgement in the hope they buy from her."
"The gloves come off": Hurley rails against cuts to police service
Kevin Hurley also launched a savage attack on Government cuts to the criminal justice system.
Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley warned that prison and court cuts are fuelling re-offending while planned budget cuts could cost up to 500 police jobs in the county.
And he said he wants to stop political attacks on the police and to make the public understand the effect of current policy.
Mr Hurley said High Down prison is under-staffed to help rehabilitate prisoners
Mr Hurley said: "I am someone who will not remain silent when I see wrongdoing. What is going on at the moment is damaging the morale of police and making us much less safe.
"I find it very worrying, I find it frankly unprincipled."
He made the stand while speaking out on Friday against the "constant" criticism of the police by politicians, especially the Home Secretary, which he said demoralised the very people who keep the public safe.
He told the Epsom Guardian: "This week I have decided the gloves come off, and you are the first to know it."
Mr Hurley said: "The continual cuts to policing, the Crown Prosecution Service, the court service and the prisons are hampering all the different agencies’ abilities to bring offenders to justice and more important, to keep us safe."
He criticised cut-backs in crown prosecution lawyers and the closure of magistrates’ courts and said he has a "wry smile" when he considers that suspected offenders cannot get representation due to legal aid cuts.
He said: "How can we possibly expect quality justice in these circumstances?"
Mr Hurley also raised serious concerns about under-investment in prisons and said he had visited a number of Surrey prisons including High Down on the outskirts of Banstead.
He said: "Most of the time because there are not enough prison staff, they (the prisoners) are kept locked up in the cells then we wonder when they come out why they keep reoffending."
HMP High Down
Of High Down, he said: "They have got a very good prison governor there but inadequate numbers of staff to allow for rehabilitative work."
Turning to Surrey Police, he said they are facing a £30m cut to their £207m annual budget over coming years, adding that "you don’t need to be a rocket scientist" to see up to 500 jobs are at risk.
Only three out of 28 police stations are left in Surrey, and he said: "We have already sold off the family silver."
Mr Hurley said that he has contacted Epsom and Ewell MP Chris Grayling and other politicians to demand a "bigger slice" of Government funding because Surrey and Dorset police forces get the worst deal.
He said: "I said you are not being fair to your own constituents. You are not represe