Police take to street in protest over cutbacks

Protest: Rachel Baines,  Lancashire Police Federation
Protest: Rachel Baines, Lancashire Police Federation
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Police officers from Lancashire were in London today to take part in a mass march against proposed cuts to force budgets.

A total of 360 officers from the county will march through central London, passing by the Home Office, to protest over changes to pay and conditions.

The Police Federation has stressed all those taking part will be off-duty, leaving staffing levels unaffected throughout the day of action.

Rachel Baines, chairman of the 3,100-strong Lancashire Federation, said: “We would never do anything which would jeopardise the safety of the public.

“There will be no difference to numbers on duty in Lancashire today as there would be on any other day.

“The 360 travelling down represent only around 12% of our members and that leaves sufficient numbers to police the county as normal.

“We believe that shows our sense of responsibility to the public, which sadly isn’t matched by a Government seemingly hell-bent on wrecking the finest police force in the world.”

Along with the armed forces and prison officers, police are banned from taking industrial action.

Many officers are angry with the Government in the wake of 20% budget cuts and proposals for the most wide-ranging reform of police pay and conditions in more than 30 years.

As many as 20,000 police from throughout England and Wales are expected to converge on the capital to protest against budget cuts and other austerity measures which many fear could leave the country with insufficient officers to tackle crime.

The demonstrators are also angry at changes to their pay and conditions which could affect future recruitment and eventually lead to a police service which is largely privatised.

Rachel Baines said: “So far the Government hasn’t seemed to be listening.

“But it’s pure folly not to listen to the experts on law and order, the men and women in the frontline on our streets.

“If they say these cutbacks are going to compromise public safety then, believe me, they should be heard.

“Nationally, 16,000 posts will have to go, 7,000 have already gone and £183m will be taken from police pay this year alone. I have been contacted by officers in Lancashire who are genuinely worried about how they are going to pay the bills.

“But it’s not just about pay, far from it. It’s about staffing levels, it’s about not having enough police to do the job properly and, ultimately, the safety of the public.”