Police cuts: Home Office rejects claim of 1,600 jobs being lost in Wales
A row has broken out between the UK government and the Police Federation over the number of police officers to be lost in Wales due to spending cuts.
The federation has claimed Wales would lose 1,600 officers - the equivalent of an entire police force.
Welsh chairman Jeff Mapps said: "These are police officers going from the frontline".
The Home Office told BBC Wales the federation was scaremongering, saying fewer than half that number would go.
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, made the claim about the scale of job cuts at its annual conference last week.
Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics programme, Mr Mapps said: "We've clearly hit a raw nerve with the Home Office and the truth of the matter is that the truth hurts.
"They seem to celebrating the fact that 800 police officers will be lost in Wales when the truth of the matter is that we're going to lose 1,600.
"The figures are pretty simple - a 20% cut means 1,600 cops going".
The Home Office rubbished those claims in a statement to the programme.
"The Police Federation is scaremongering by deliberately playing fast and loose with the figures - the independent inspectorate has said fewer than 800 officers will be lost in Wales by 2015," it said.
"As a service spending £14bn a year the police must play their part in reducing the record budget deficit."
The Home Office added that the "quality and effectiveness of policing" was not only about numbers but about "how well they are deployed."
"Decisions about the use of available resources, including police stations, are a matter for local forces," it said.
However, Ian Johnston, a former chief superintendent with Gwent Police, endorsed the federation's figures and warned that crime would grow if the cuts went ahead.
"The public should be very worried," he said.
"At a strategic level, I think we're going to see more crime, because criminals will realise that the police officers are not there to deal with them.
"I think the public will find that police response to incidents will get slower and the police will have to start looking very very hard at what they respond to and what they don't respond to."
The war of words in Wales is a symptomatic of an increasingly acrimonious relationship between police and the home secretary Theresa May, who was heckled at the Police Federation's conference in Bournemouth last week.
Mr Mapps said the federation supported a cut of 12% but said 20% was going too far.
He said: "We want to engage but we want to engage with a Government that's listening to us and at the moment they are listening to the policing professionals."