Police protest against cuts

Today's protests follows a similar protest in 2008 Photo:

Today's march by police officers from every force in the country - including a big contingent from the South West - is intended to be a show of "soft" power designed to impress public opinion even if it doesn't sway the government. Look how many people we can muster - all on their days off!

They're angry over budget cuts - 20 per cent over four years - which will for instance mean seven hundred fewer officers in Devon and Cornwall, and a similar reduction in Avon and Somerset. The Police Federation insists this is bound to have an impact on frontline services - something the government disputes, arguing that savings can be found in back room functions.

Similar protests were held in 2008

There's also resentment at the two-year public sector pay freeze which is being applied to them, and proposals - in theory still out to consultation - to reform pensions and working practices. A stiffer policy on retirement after 30 years' pensionable service is being challenged by some Devon and Cornwall officers who are invoking trade union rights to take the matter to an employment tribunal. There's also lingering resentment at the imposition of elected crime commissioners, coming in later in the year.

The presence of the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire at the march adds some public relations spice - it's not just the junior ranks who are complaining. But Tony Melville, who's resigning in protest at the cuts, is an exception - most of his colleagues are quietly getting on with the job of trying to make the system work.

Chief Constable of Glos Police, Tony Melville

As for changing the government's mind, the portents aren't good. A similar march in 2008 over the withdrawal of a promised pay rise won an apology, but no extra money.

Watch the full report by Bob Constantine: