Thousands of off-duty police officers from all over England and Wales will march in London today The Police Federation of England and Wales has organised the protest to highlight concerns about the consequences of 20 percent cuts for public safety and the disproportionate attack on policing by the government. A sea of 16,000 black caps will show-case the exact number of police officers the public will lose over the next four years as a result of the cuts. See also these messages of support from officers who are on duty and cannot attend.
The Police Federation have done well to coordinate their protest with a strike by unions representing 400000 workers, over on-going the pensi0ns dispute. The unions taking part in the strike are: the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the largest civil service trade union; Unite, representing NHS workers, Ministry of Defence firefighters and others; the University and College Union; the Immigration Services Union; Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance.
Police officers will be sending a clear message of anger to the Government, enough is enough. What is happening is bad for officers, bad for the service and most importantly it is bad for the public as their safety is being put at risk through mass privatisation, lost officers and a demoralised police service. Police officers are furious about the excessive budget cuts to policing and the way they are being treated by the government. The march will commence at Millbank, London at noon passing the Home Office, Parliament Square, Whitehall (Downing Street), Trafalgar Square, and will terminate at Waterloo Place.
The police budget has been cut by 20 – 30%. The government mantra is that we can get more for less, but with cuts of this magnitude the only thing you will get more of is, more crime, more disorder and more anti-social behaviour. The government is insisting savings need to be made for the greater good of the economy. However, police officers have already made a significant contribution to tackle the national debt. According to HMIC the police service will lose over 16,000 warranted officers over the next four years, £163 million is being taken from police pay this year alone, pension contributions have been increased and a two-year public sector pay freeze has been imposed on police officers.
Paul McKeever Chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales says:
The march is the only way that police officers can demonstrate their anger. We have been inundated with messages of support from our colleagues who cannot attend due to their work commitments. The officers marching are doing so in their own time, that’s how strongly they feel. Some will have been travelling since 4am to ensure they can take part.
The reality of the cuts to policing is really beginning to bite; numbers are beginning to fall rapidly. In the past year alone, we have lost over 5,200 police officers from the frontline and we are witnessing the privatisation of core policing roles as chief officers struggle to cope with budget restraints. The government need to be realistic about the outcome of severe cuts to policing; we cannot afford to compromise on public safety.”