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Excerpt: "Tens of thousands of off-duty police officers gathered in central London on Thursday to march against job cuts and changes to their pension deals."

Police officers march on London, wearing 16,000 black caps to symbolize potential job losses. (photo: Andy Rain/EPA)
Police officers march on London, wearing 16,000 black caps to symbolize potential job losses. (photo: Andy Rain/EPA)



Tens of Thousands of Police March on Central London

By Esther Addley, Guardian UK

11 May 12

 

hey were out of uniform, of course, but some habits die hard. As tens of thousands of off-duty police officers gathered in central London on Thursday to march against job cuts and changes to their pension deals, march organisers handed them baseball caps, which the overwhelmingly majority promptly, obediently, put on.

Some of the hats – 16,000 to be precise – were black, to represent the number of jobs that the Police Federation of England and Wales estimates could be lost under proposed cuts to policing services. Others were white, representing nothing more than that they had run out of black ones. It made an impressive image – a long, snaking and terribly well-behaved crowd, looking exactly like a bunch of police officers on their day off.

This was no leisurely day out, however. The march, past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and along Whitehall, might have been unusually mannerly – "the quietest demo ever", as the shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, tweeted from his office overlooking the route – but the mood was determined and frequently angry.

"Utterly betrayed," read the hand-made placard carried by David Ginn, a Metropolitan police dog handler based in south-west London. "No right to strike – every right to be screwed."

"Of course we're angry, we're very angry," he said as the march set off. "We've been treated with the most grotesque disrespect by this government." It was not all their fault, he acknowledged, and some belt-tightening was necessary. "We will take our share of the hit, but it would seem that our share is disproportionate, because we cannot strike." Of his team of 10, eight had turned out, all of them either on a scheduled day off or taking leave.

"We're here to show the public how strongly we feel about this," said one young frontline officer from Surrey, who, like many of those marching, preferred not to give her name. "I don't think the public realise what we're going through." She signed up three years ago to what she thought was a career for life, she said, but with 20% cuts to the policing budget, she was already seeing job losses among her team and fewer chances of promotion. People feared for the jobs, and she admitted she had thought of looking elsewhere. "The problem is, all the jobs I would be good at, civil service jobs, they are all being cut back too."

However great the frustration of those involved, it was not only their orderliness that marked this out as no ordinary protest. "All right mate!" shouted one marcher as the demo began to snake towards the Home Office. He had spotted a friend among the on-duty officers charged with policing the demo – distinguished by their fluorescent jackets and slightly bemused air – and bounded across to give him a hug. "Haven't seen you in ages! What have you been up to?"

Similarly, as the march processed along Whitehall ("Caps off, lads, as we pass the cenotaph"), it passed a number of police vans full of officers keeping an eye on a small, separate demonstration outside Downing Street, against the visit of the Pakistani prime minister. A handful of police marchers began to applaud as they passed the vans. One on-duty officer raised a discreet fist in a salute of solidarity.

As they rounded on to Parliament Square, the marchers encountered a separate protest being co-ordinated by striking public sector workers, and matters became briefly surreal. Some of those holding Unite banners applauded, while one man next to them shouted: "Remember what you lot did to the miners!" A tiny but rowdy group from the Socialist Workers party shouted: "Charge the police!"

"Have a bath," came the reply.

Simon Newport, a constable with North Wales police in Colwyn Bay, had worked from 6pm to 3am on Wednesday night, and come straight from his shift to catch the coach to London at 4am. It had been a typical night – two assaults, several domestics, paperwork for a couple of arrests. "A quiet one." All the same, he said, "you would be alarmed if I told you how few of us were on duty … Staff levels are critical."

Parallel cuts to other services make things even harder, he said, citing a recent example when ambulance service shortages meant an injured woman had to wait so long for treatment that "it led to a public order situation", requiring the police to make arrests.

"I'm careful not to scaremonger, but for the small force that we are, and the large area we cover, we are close to breaking point at certain times of day."

Two hundred officers felt strongly enough about the issue to make the journey from north Wales, a pattern echoed in forces across the country. How many had attended in total? The Police Federation was confident there had been more than 35,000. The Metropolitan police, as is now their habit with all protests, declined to say.

See Also: Public Sector Protests Spark Government Threat of Legal Action

See Also: Hundreds of Thousands March Against Austerity in UK

 

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+34 # reiverpacific 2012-05-11 08:12
This is more what Democracy should look like and I'm proud of my home nation's police for supporting and joining a 24-hour general strike of public employees against Cameron's "Austerity" cuts which in true Tory fashion, hurts everybody but the wealthy.
If his snotty-nosednes s keeps this up, we may yet see a "non-confidence " vote, which is the Parliamentary version of the torturous "recall" system here, that is so easily turned aside by big money interests as is happening in Wisconsin.
Would that the cops here joined the "Occupy" movement and supported them rather than doing the "Darth Vader" dress-up and armed to the teeth act (I have some close-up photos from right in front of their faces that I took at the barriers when Dimwits Bush came to Portland Oregon and it really black Sci-Fi come to life.
I remember at Seattle '99, a friend yelling at the cops "Are you public employees?" answer from a cop "Yes!", Response from my (union) buddy "Then why the Hell aren't ya over HERE with us?" -No reply.
When the people and the cops get together AS PUBLIC EMPLOYEES, things will get accomplished for the rest of us and the likes of Walker/Koch/Che ney et al's "Divine and conquer" tactics fall apart in the face of solidarity!
 
 
+25 # pbbrodie 2012-05-11 09:17
What will it take for the police to come to their senses and realize that they are part of the 99% and certainly not the 1%, their task masters?!
 
 
+8 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-11 19:47
Their Unions too
 
 
0 # WestWinds 2012-05-15 04:01
The police will wake up when "austerity" hits them in the wallet. Where I live in Floriduh, the police department has a designated training officer who gets the rookies and turns them from decent human beings into political zombies who blame the victims for the crime, and train the public not to call on them by being intentionally abusive. The beat cops haven't been able to connect the dots between corporate ownership, political hacks and themselves being USED as tools for the destruction of society. But the corporate masters will get around to abusing the police, too, sooner or later (because greed and abuse is what corporate owners are all about,) and eventually the police will have to wake up when their masters take away everything they have ever worked for and treat the police with open disrespect as the British police are finding out just now that has 35,000 of them in the streets. What will it take? Just follow the money.
 
 
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-05-11 16:43
Quoting reiverpacific:

When the people and the cops get together AS PUBLIC EMPLOYEES, things will get accomplished for the rest of us and the likes of Walker/Koch/Cheney et al's "Divine and conquer" tactics fall apart in the face of solidarity!


I meant divide and CONQUER of course: 'scuse crappy, dysfunctional typin' ! I mean well y'know so bear with 'umble clumsy self.
 
 
+14 # ALinSTL 2012-05-11 11:22
WOW...IF THESE COPS GET ROWDY OR ACTUALLY JUST STAND AROUND AT BARRIERS THEN WHO ARE THE POWERS THAT BE GONNA CALL ON TO BREAK THEIR PROTEST UP OR TEARGAS/BEAT THEM UP LIKE OTHER PROTESTERS?!?!? !?!?????!!! IMPORT MAYOR BLOOMBERTG'S WHITE SHIRT GESTAPO FROM THE NYCPD????
 
 
+11 # Glen 2012-05-11 12:44
What might this mean for the overly militarized Olympics this summer? Will these coppers resist serious attempts to get them to brutalize anyone not "behaving" during the Olympics? Will they be a part of the breathtaking surveillance on London? How about manning the rockets atop the apartment building.

Be interesting to see.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2012-05-11 19:51
Quoting Glen:
What might this mean for the overly militarized Olympics this summer? Will these coppers resist serious attempts to get them to brutalize anyone not "behaving" during the Olympics? Will they be a part of the breathtaking surveillance on London? How about manning the rockets atop the apartment building.

Be interesting to see.

Good point!
 
 
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-05-11 19:49
I hope that you can show others that no one should take, take, take ....without your sevice no one would have, have , have

I thank you all for your service wherever you serve.
 
 
0 # JSRaleigh 2012-05-13 12:45
This is coming to the United States as well, but because of the federal system the layoffs & stealing pensions will be done at the state level to hide it under the radar.

They've already come for the teachers & garbage collectors; police and fire fighters are next.

Soldiers & sailors take note, you're on the hit list too.
 
 
0 # cordleycoit 2012-05-14 11:16
Police work is pretty God awful. Boring with windows of danger. The most danger seems to come from the overhead and bent badges. The overhead being mainly corrupt prosecutors and the bosses, politicians, civil servants and the ever present ever difficult Feds. Bored, brutalized and overworked when cops say they are not going to beat on the people that is the time things change.
 

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