LANCASHIRE’S Police Federation is at the centre of the row between the organisation and Home Secretary Theresa May.

Four of its officials expressed their anger and distress at her speech to its annual conference in Bournemouth this week, one on national TV.

Mrs May told the Police Federation of England and Wales to reform, or she would enforce change.

The Home Secretary made the demand as she told the federation its public funding would be withdrawn from August.

The speech, received in silence, referred to a series of police scandals ranging from 'plebgate' to the review into the Hillsborough disaster.

The organisation, which represents 126,000 rank and file officers nationwide, faces accusations of bullying and a lack of transparency in its accounts.

Lancashire branch secretary John Ainsworth, who criticised her speech on the BBC ‘Six O’Clock News’, said: “Her speech was absolutely outrageous.

“She decided to insult the whole police family. I was staggered.”

Chairman Rachel Baines, who lives in Rossendale and worked in Blackburn before transferring to force headquarters in Hutton, said: “Our federation members are angry and upset. Some of her comments were unfair and unnecessary.

“Lancashire’s Police Federation accepts the need for change and embraces it.”

Burnley detective constable and branch committee member Mark Whitehead said: “This was not at attack on the Police Federation but the whole extended police family, the hundreds of officers who go out every day to serve the public.” Vice-chairman Steve Rothwell, formerly of Burnley police station, said: “I was bitterly disappointed. It was an attack on the whole police service.”

A motion for reform was passed at the federation's annual conference after Mrs May's speech.

Outgoing chairman Steve Williams said the federation would 'work hard' to make sure the changes were carried out.

Mrs May announced the Home Office would inspect the federation's accounts adding in future officers would have to ‘opt in’ to membership rather than be automatically enrolled.

The federation has been criticised for the way it handled the 'plebgate' affair, which led to the resignation of former Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell.