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More than 600 police officers from across the South Coast are taking part in a national protest march over government spending cuts.
The national police budget has been cut by 20% with changes being made to police officers working terms and conditions – impacting on things like overtime, holiday and pensions.
Hampshire Constabulary alone needs to save £54m by April 2015, leading to front desk closures and redundancies – so far around 650 police officer and staff posts have been axed.
The march will start at Millbank, London at noon passing the Home Office, Parliament Square, Whitehall (Downing Street), Trafalgar Square, and will finish at Waterloo Place.
Around 450 officers from Hampshire Police will be heading up to London in eight coaches to take part and more than 200 will join them from Dorset Police.
A spokesperson from Dorset Police Federation said:
At least 200 off-duty police officers from Dorset Police will march in London this coming Thursday 10th May. 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.
Police officers are extremely angry about the excessive budget cuts to policing and the way they are being treated by the government.
The police budget has been cut by 20 percent and officers know this will result in a poorer service for communities.
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 Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary [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.
Clive Chamberlain Chair of Dorset Police Federation said:
“The reality of the cuts to policing is really beginning to bite. In the past year alone, here in Dorset we have lost over 108 police officers and 176 Police Staff.
Elsewhere we are witnessing the privatisation of core policing roles as chief officers struggle to cope with budget restraints. The government and our local MPs need to be realistic about the outcome of severe cuts to policing; we cannot afford to compromise on public safety”
John Apter Chair of Hampshire Police Federation said:
“The cuts are an attack on policing everywhere. Morale has never been so bad. We have police officers now with 20 years plus service, who are actively looking for employment elsewhere - that’s never happened before. We have officers who are feeling so demoralised they feel trapped in a job that no longer cares for them. The Government need to realise that the cuts are disproportionate and police forces everywhere are reaching breaking point. Enough is enough. The march is about making our voice heard. We’ve got to do something.”