There were a few single cause fruitcakes out, which provided some light entertainment. Is that you Ciaran?
It is important that people understand what the march was about. There are three main issues and I will deal with them in ascending order of priority.
Firstly, the police are cross about their pay and pensions. We understand that there is a financial crisis in the country, caused largely by the last profligate Government implementing its liberal policies. The banking crisis simply added to the problem. Police pay has been frozen for four years. With inflation running at 4% this means salaries and living standards are being cut. Additional allowances paid to some front line officers have been abolished. To add to this, pensions are being attacked. Officers currently joining the police have to work 35 years to get a half salary pension. They pay almost 10% of their salary for this. Pension contributions will be rising to 13 or 14% and officers may have to work up to 42 years before they get their pension at age 60.
I don't expect much public sympathy regarding pay and pensions but you need to understand that very few officers will be able to collect a full pension. This is part of the real plan. Tom Winsor wants any officer who isn't fully operational sacked. How many 59 year olds will be running after offenders and rolling around on the floor with drunks?
The third and most important reason is the recommendations in the Winsor report. These recommendations put in place all the ingredients required to largely privatise the police service. Winsor is recommending that police officers pay is reduced even further and that police can be made redundant. He also recommends that senior officers are appointed directly into their roles rather than coming through the ranks.
There will be a national paramilitary police force who will deal with violence, demonstrations and riots etc. Most of these officers will be short term, possibly contract employees, who will never see a proper pension. Managers from outside organisations, with no experience of policing, will be employed directly into senior roles to replace those that will no longer be coming through the ranks.
The public need to think carefully about the service they will get from the private sector. When profit is the motive of the employer, how much will patrolling and investigating security guards be paid and what will be the quality of those employees? What accountability will they have? What will the relationship be between the small paramilitary police force and the public? Will the small number of police officers left be able to deal with situations such as the riots last August?
Just 24 Metropolitan Police were tasked to police the police demonstration today. The Pakistan leader was visiting London today. Over 100 police officers were tasked to keep the Pakistani leaders pro and anti factions apart.