Headlines: March 14th, 2002

Some 5,000 police officers from across the UK descended on central London yesterday to persuade MPs to help to overturn Government plans to give police powers to the private security industry and change police pay and conditions. The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, made it clear that it supports the overwhelming majority of the Police Reform Bill but is opposed to proposals to change the pay structure and to plans to give police powers to the private security industry. A similar rally held at Wembley in the early 1990s was successful in halting reforms proposed by the then Conservative Government.The conciliation process is due to start next week and there are indications of a willingness to compromise on some of the more controversial proposals. The planned move away from the dominance of overtime in the pay system could be watered down. The proposals for extending the police family to include private security guards and street wardens could be made optional so that the local Police Authority would decide whether an extended police family was appropriate for the circumstances of the area.

In a ballot last month organized by the Police Federation, members voted 10-1 against plans to reform their pay, including proposals to slash overtime. Nearly two out of every three people questioned in a Federation-commissioned ICM poll before Christmas expressed serious reservations about ‘civilian’ auxiliaries being given police powers. The Federation believes that views of dedicated police officers are being mis-represented by spin doctors portraying the service as change-resistant ‘wreckers’.

The conflict has also been taken to the Internet. The ‘official’ Home Office Police Reform website, <http://www.policereform.gov.uk/> carries details of the reform package and Minsterial statements. An independent website <http://www.offduty.co.uk/index.htm> carries news and views of police officers, including reaction to the vote against the reform package.

Information provided by Horn Ltd, suppliers of specialist police information http://www.Horn.ltd.uk