Police reform will put public interest first

Sir, Paul McKeever of the Police Federation attacks the government's policy on police reform ("Muddled reforms show that Cameron has lost his way on crime", September 29).

It  is unsurprising that trade unions are resisting pay restraint, pension  reform and changes to outdated conditions. But the coalition is dealing  with the budget deficit in the national interest. For a profession that  relies on impartiality, to turn the debate into an overblown party  political attack is as unwise as it is misplaced.

Our  agenda for police reform is strong and coherent, creating accountable  structures at both force and national levels. Elected police and crime  commissioners, crime mapping and a powerful new National Crime Agency  reflect our determination to boost the fight against crime.

None  of this would have happened if, instead of driving reform, we had set  up a royal commission or a committee of inquiry. As the independent  Inspectorate of Constabulary has made clear, the fiscal challenge is  urgent: there is no time for delay. And it is little use setting up  committees of wise men if you don't even acknowledge that there is a  problem to be solved.

Public  service reform must be driven first of all by the interests of the  public. The changes we are making to reduce bureaucracy and enhance  professional discretion will help the police. This is a positive agenda  for them, and I am committed to it. We will consult the professionals  and we will listen.

But  where tough decisions are needed, including changes to ensure a fair  deal to the taxpayer and a voice for the consumer, we will take them.  The public interest will come first.

Christopher N Howarth