Northern Ireland’s police union has warned it will not stand for cuts to pay and pensions.
Members of the PSNI’s Police Federation yesterday joined a huge march in London involving more than 20,000 off-duty officers from England and Wales.
They were protesting against the controversial review of pay and conditions from former rail regulator Tom Winsor, cuts to police budgets and job losses.
Winsor’s recommendations have not been applied in Northern Ireland to date, but PSNI officers fear they might be in future.
Speaking as he marched through central London, Terry Spence, the chairman of the NI Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “We are here to show solidarity with our colleagues in England and Wales.
“We also want to make it absolutely clear that as far as Northern Ireland is concerned, it would be totally disgraceful if there was to be any move to apply these sort of cuts to our part of the United Kingdom.”
He said the PSNI was already subject to a pay freeze against spiralling living costs, adding: “The clear signal needs to be that they need not think of introducing this sort of thing in Northern Ireland.”
If Northern Ireland’s block grant was reduced in accordance with the cuts in England and Wales, it would put the police “at loggerheads” with the Department for Justice, he added.
At yesterday’s demonstration, which coincided with strikes by civil servants, officers donned black baseball caps with the words ‘Cuts are criminal’.
Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever told them: “We care very deeply about the communities that we serve.
“We have seen what happens when we have a Government that has given policing a very low priority. If you are cutting our jobs, then you are cutting the service we can deliver and the public's safety is at risk.”
Policing Minister Nick Herbert wrote an open letter to all officers telling them he and the Home Secretary were “constantly impressed by the work you do for your communities” but insisting that “all organisations have to keep pace with the modern world”.
The Government wants to recognise the professionalism of officers and ensure officers are rewarded “for the excellent job you do”, he said.