Usdaw backs police cuts protest

Date: 10 May 2012 The shopworkers' Union Usdaw has sent a strong message of support to police officers who are marching in London today to protest against the Tory-led Coalition's 20% cut to police budgets.

Usdaw launched a campaign against the cuts, which will take 16,000 police officers and 1,800 PCSOs off the streets, in November last year, branding them a threat to the safety of all shopworkers.

Usdaw's latest Freedom from Fear survey revealed that in the previous 12 months, 6% of shopworkers surveyed had been subjected to violent attack, 37% had been threatened with harm and a massive 70% had suffered verbal abuse. Usdaw fears cuts to frontline police will reduce response times to serious incidents and could undermine the efforts of the Union, retailers and police to deal effectively with lower level incidents of retail crime.

Usdaw has produced a leaflet and petition against the cuts, which can be signed at www.usdaw.org.uk/policecutspetition and Union Activists have been collecting signatures from both shopworkers and customers.

In a message of support to the police marchers, John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Usdaw members are genuinely worried about the impact these criminal cuts to police budgets will have on their working lives and in the communities where they live and I'm sure the vast majority of people in this country feel exactly the same."

"Shopworkers in particular are often on the frontline preventing theft and under-age sales in their workplaces and they should feel confident that in the event of a violent incident, the police will be able to respond immediately and without having to worry about stretched resources."

"Usdaw fully supports and applauds your outstanding protest today and we will continue to do all we can to campaign against these deeply misguided cuts until the Government finally sees sense and reverses them."

Notes for Editors:

1. Background to the police cuts:

  • 20% cuts in central Government funding to the police, with the steepest cuts in the first two years.
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has confirmed that over 16,000 police officers are to be cut so far.
  • More than 16,000 staff and 1,800 PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) are also being cut.
  • HMIC has proved that the frontline is being hit as a result of these cuts.
  • More than 2,000 of the most experienced officers are being forcibly retired because the Government is cutting too far and too fast.
  • Figures compiled by the Labour Party from Freedom of Information requests, which were released in March this year, showed there has already been a 5,261 drop in the number of first responder officer numbers. First responders deal with emergency calls, attend traffic accidents and are first on the scene of crime or disorder.

2. For details of the number of police officers being cut by constabulary and for further information about Usdaw's campaign visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/freedomfromfear

3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over 415,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers