THE chairman of Gwent's Police Federation has hit out after Theresa May called on rank-and-file officers to change or have reforms imposed on them during a speech at their annual conference in Bournemouth.

Jeff Mapps spoke out after the Home Secretary criticised officers for displaying a "contempt for the public" in their handling of sensitive cases and pledged to scrap all public funding to the association this summer.

Mrs May said the association of police officers needed to “face reality” and reform, although senior members said they had already embarked on a reform process themselves.

Gwent Police Federation chairman Mr Mapps, 46, said: “We are extremely disappointed by what she said and the messages delivered in the speech.

"It was unnecessary given the fact the review of the Police Federation has been instigated by ourselves.

“We have already embarked on a change process, for the benefit of our members.

“She has failed yet again to demonstrate any support whatsoever for the police service.”

The Home Secretary also suggested that officers should no longer become members of the federation automatically and should opt in instead.

The organisation represents 126,000 officers including around 6,000 in Wales.

Delivering her speech on Wednesday Mrs May said: “The federation was created by an act of Parliament and it can be reformed by an act of Parliament.

"If you do not change of your own accord, we will impose change on you.”

Police Federation chairman Steve Williams echoed Mr Mapps' views.

He said: “We must not lose sight of the fact the federation instigated the independent review itself and it is now down to the Police Federation to bring about the necessary reforms.

“In all honesty the comments made by the Home Secretary came as a total surprise.

“We have already indicated we are an organisation that is willing to change and it is for us to make the key decisions around reform.”

Mr Mapps added: “Colleagues at the conference were bitterly disappointed and found it was unnecessary to conduct herself in that way.

“The way she conducted herself yesterday was highly inappropriate for a Government minister.”