Police Appetite for a Strike

08:15 Thursday 10th May 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: It seems it’s going to be a day of discontent everywhere, because off-duty police staff are also protesting today. Around 20,000 rank and file officers expected to be taking part in a march in London at lunchtime. And according to the Police Federation, that march also includes 150 off-duty police officers from Cambridgeshire. And I can now speak to Oz Merrygold from Peterborough, who’s on a coach heading for the capital. Morning Oz.
OZ MERRYGOLD: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Whereabouts are you?
OZ MERRYGOLD: We’re just in Cambridge at the moment. We’re doing our second pickup at Trumpington Coach Park.
PAUL STAINTON: Obviously police officers not allowed to go on strike,. but you’re all going to be showing your displeasure in a different way today.
OZ MERRYGOLD:¬†That’s right, yes. We are very angry at this government and the way we’ve been treated. The police service have been singled out for extra special treatment by this government, and I think what’s quite clear today is that 20,000 officers will be marching today, but if they carry on with these 20% cuts, those 20,000 police officers will be reduced to 4,000, ie we’re going to be losing 16,000 police officers off the streets of this country.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. We keep being told that it’s not going to affect front line services though.
OZ MERRYGOLD: Of course we do. But you only have to do the maths yourself. You take away 16,000 officers Paul and I think everybody out there knows that will make some difference, but we’ve heard it from the Government themselves, their own Nadine Dorries, this government aren’t listening, they are arrogant, and they’re not listening to the professionals.
PAUL STAINTON: If the police could go on strike, would they be?
OZ MERRYGOLD: Sadly I think they would. There’s the appetite there now. I remember back when I joined, 75% of officers in a ballot said they wouldn’t. That has reversed now. And we’re going to hold a national ballot on that very subject soon. But already it’s looking as though the majority of police officers would actually strike now, which I think is sad. But it shows the frustration we’re feeling.
PAUL STAINTON:¬†People working in the private sector might think you’ve still got a better deal than them though. Why do you think your pension should be more secure than theirs?
OZ MERRYGOLD: I think it’s very hard to equate our job to any other private sector job. Policing is a unique job, and it’s not every job you come to where you face violence on a daily basis and threats. And that’s just part of the nature of the job. It is a unique job and you can’t equate it to other jobs out there.
PAUL STAINTON: No. And do you think you’ve got support for what you’re doing today?
OZ MERRYGOLD: I think support is gathering, and you see what’s happening across Europe, if you like. Yes we have got to broaden it, but I think a lot of people are beginning to see this government for what they are. They’re using the austerity measures as a convenient excuse to push through ideological reform.