Police officers in step for protest march

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 May 2012

Officers on the march

Officers on the march

Peter Land

A TOTAL of 100 police officers from Weston and North Somerset took part in a demonstration against cuts to the service on Thursday.

Government proposals to reform the force and cut its budgets prompted 30,000 off-duty officers to march through London, and Weston was well represented among their numbers.

Officers from North Somerset filled two coaches and provided more officers for the march than anywhere else in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary force area.

Officers have warned that should the cuts go ahead, the impact will be felt by the wider community as well as within the service.

The Police Federation estimates that 16,000 officers and other staff will be cut across the country over the next two years, and that number of policemen wore black baseball caps as they walked past the Home Office building.

They were also marching in protest against radical overhauls to the service proposed by lawyer Tom Winsor as part of a Home Office review.

The review suggests that pay should be based more on performance than years served, and that officers should undergo regular fitness tests.

Weston-based Sergeant Peter Land, who was on the march, said: “Within the past few years we have seen hundreds of police officers and staff leave Avon and Somerset.

“A lot of those are staff who are not on the frontline, but who do a vital job in helping us do our job to our best ability.

“We are concerned about what is happening to the police service, and the fact that some of our officers could lose as much as £10,000 in pay by 2018.”

Fellow marcher and police federation member PC Paul Budd said: “Police officers are ordinary people that do an extraordinary job.

“We may not always get it right but there is not one of us that is not trying to do our best for the communities we serve.

“I would encourage our communities to find out more about what policing may look like in the future and ask themselves whether a tried and tested policing model, the envy of the world that has lasted over 180 years, is so broken that it needs to be fixed.

“Politicians will tell you our argument is only about ‘pay and pensions’.

“It is not, that is a small part of the 1,000-page proposals that could see an end to tried and tested policing.”

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