London march by police officers over government cuts to forces

08:49 10 May 2012

Up to 16,000 off-duty officers will don black caps as they take to the streets today.

The officers, banned from striking under law, will march through central London in a protest against proposed changes to their pay and conditions.

They will march from Millbank to Waterloo Place – via Downing Street.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the sea of black caps will show the number of officers the public will lose over four years as a result of cuts.

Paul McKeever, the federation’s chairman, said: “The march is the only way that police officers can demonstrate their anger.

“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.”

Once 16,000 officers wearing black caps are on the streets, others will don white caps instead, organisers said.

Home secretary Theresa May, who asked former rail regulator Tom Winsor to carry out the most wide-ranging review of police pay and conditions in 30 years, will address the officers at their annual conference in Bournemouth next week.

A Home Office spokesman said: “As a service spending some £14 billion a year it is right for the police to make their contribution to reducing the record budget deficit.

“Existing police pay and conditions were designed more than 30 years ago which is why we asked Tom Winsor to carry out his independent review.

“We will continue to ensure that police officers are rewarded for doing an exceptional job.”

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