Important principle at stake in pay row

EAST Devon police officers joined more than 22,500 colleagues who marched on London this week in a protest over pay.

EAST Devon police officers joined more than 22,500 colleagues who marched on London this week in a protest over pay.Sidmouth's Sergeant Andy Turner travelled up to the capital on Wednesday, along with Sergeant Gary Philips, PC Steve Speariett and PC Andy Carmichael.They were just four of around 350 police, from the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, giving up their days off to show their anger at Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's refusal to backdate their annual pay rise to September 2007.Sergeant Turner said: "It's the principle of the way that the Home Secretary has dealt with our pay agreement. "She has gone against what has been agreed for the past 30 years. It's not about the money it's about the principle of how it's been handled."Since the late 1970s, police pay has increased from September 1, to make sure the rate of pay did not fall behind workers in other areas. In July 2007, the Police Arbitration Tribunal agreed an increase of 2.5 per cent after disputes within the Police Negotiating Board.By refusing to backdate the pay rise to September, police say the Home Secretary is only giving them an increase of 1.9 per cent.Once in London, the officers marched from Park Lane, through Hyde Park Corner and Victoria Street to the Tate Gallery in Millbank.After the march, many officers went to lobby MPs on the issue or joined further rallies in Westminster.Sergeant Turner said: "It was quite a sight really. We spoke to a steward, who said they had estimated there were 20,000 plus there, which was more than expected. The Metropolitan Police estimated 22,500. It was quite impressive."I'd like to think the march has made a difference, but I'm not going to hold my breath. There were 22,500 officers out of 140,000 and that should hopefully show how we feel. "We feel strongly, not just for us, but also for future officers who are coming through and are going to be coming through.

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