London, Dec 30, IRNA , Police in Britain are planning to hold a mass protest march to parliament next month in the biggest demonstration held by officers since staging a strike nearly 90 years ago in 1919.
But according to the Observer newspaper, police are ironically accusing the government of attempting to ban some 10,000 officers from marching on January 23, using an archaic law drawn up in the early 19th century to combat large-scale radical protests that threatened a disturbance of the peace.
The Police Federation, representing 124,000 rank-and-file officers, are in dispute over a recent below-inflation, 1.9 per cent pay rise, and have been threatening to strike.
Representatives from London’s Metropolitan Police were said to have been in talks with parliamentary officials over the route of the march passed government departments but believed the government had no intention of lifting sessional orders which are renewed every year by parliament.
“There appears to be some behind-the-scenes government interference,’ said Alan Gordon,vice-chairman of the federation was quoted saying by the Observer.
“There is pressure being brought on the Metropolitan Police to either postpone the march altogether or to reroute it in such a way that it will disappear into side streets where it will be out of the public gaze,” Gordon said.
He warned that using archaic orders to ban or re route the march on law-and-order grounds would widen the rift between the police and government.
“To think there is a likelihood of public disorder from 10,000 police officers marching through central London is a nonsense. I can only assume they are doing this because they do not want the embarrassment. It will just raise the police’s anger and mistrust of this government,” the vice-chairman said.
But the government denied it was attempting to block the protest.
A Home Office spokesman said any decision on the march was not up to the government but was “a matter for the Metropolitan Police.”