SUNDERLAND and Durham police officers were heading to London today to protest against proposed changes to pay and working conditions.
Organisers were expecting more than 20,000 off-duty officers from across England and Wales’ 43 forces, including 220 from Northumbria and 130 from Durham, to take part in the Police Federation’s national march.
The action was triggered after the second part of lawyer Tom Winsor’s report called for a review and overhaul of conditions and pay, which protesters say will hit policing hard.
In his review of policing, Mr Winsor recommends introducing a raft of cost-cutting measures, including lower starting salaries for constables and direct entry at inspector and superintendent level.
Further cost-cutting measures include freezing wages and overtime payments and slashing some allowances.
But officers claim the proposals, along with the Government’s pledge to cut 20 per cent of the policing budget over the next four years, will have a detrimental effect on policing.
A former Durham officer, who was attending today’s march, said: “There is a lot of anger brewing over these changes and because police are not allowed to strike officers are doing this in their own time.
“They will, without a doubt, have a huge effect on the way the streets are protected with more pressures put on less officers, working under worse conditions.
“These 20 per cent policing cuts don’t just affect serving police officers, they will affect everyone in a huge way.
“We’re all in this together and police now need the public’s help to protect them and the future of policing the streets of our area.”
Officers believe a shake-up to the service and cash savings could be made, but claim a 12 per cent cut couldn’t be met without harming the service.
Kevin Wilson, Durham Police Federation chairman, said: “This is about the disgraceful way our members are being treated by this Government in relation to pay and conditions.
“What the public don’t realise is they’re not going to see the effect of this next week or month, but before we know it we’ll be five or 10 years down the line and that’s when it will be affecting our services.
“This could be catastrophic to police and the public in this country.”