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Thousands of UK police in anti-austerity march

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Thousands of UK police in anti-austerity march


Thousands of off-duty police officers have taken to the streets of London in a rare protest against austerity measures.

They rallied against budget cuts and a government-commissioned report that recommends a shake-up of their employment conditions and a rise in the pension age.

The protest coincided with a mass public sector walk-out including immigration, health and prison staff.

The police are banned from striking, but with their off-duty protest they wanted to send a clear message to the government.

“When you cut policing by up to 20 percent, the only thing you get more of is not more policing – you get more disorder, you get more crime and you get more anti-social behaviour and that’s why we are here today,” said Police Federation Chairman Paul McKeever.

The police protest is embarrassing for the prime minister whose Conservative Party prides itself on standing up for law and order.

It came a week after both governing coalition parties – the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – did badly in local elections.

Across the public sector the protesters oppose planned changes to pensions which could see the retirement age rise eventually to 68.

“We shoudn’t be paying more, getting less and working longer for a crisis that isn’t of our making,” said one protester.

The government says pensions will be protected from inflation.

It claimed that only 100,000 workers went on strike – fewer than in a huge protest last year. Unions had predicted a turnout of 400,000.

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