North Devon police on the streets of London

Off duty police officers from North Devon and Torridge joined Thursday’s protest march in the capital.

POLICE officers from North Devon took to the streets of London on Thursday in protest at looming budgets.

The 62-strong continent joined more than 600 off duty officers from Devon and Cornwall to add their numbers to the estimated 35,000 who took part in the peaceful protest march.

Sergeant Nigel Rabbits, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said members wanted to send a clear message on how budget cuts would affect local policing:

“With a 20 per cent cut in resources they would be hard pushed to maintain an effective police response in the North of the county,” he said.

“They accepted there were budgetary restraints and officers were already taking the brunt of a two year pay freeze but enough was enough. When public and officer safety is starting to be affected then the Government needs to take heed of the warning given by this massive turn out of rank and file officers.”

Among them was Inspector Vince Puffitt, who is in charge of the custody unit at Barnstaple Police Station, who told the Gazette: “I feel so passionate about the police service I joined and the oath I swore a long time ago.

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“For myself I’m towards the end of my career and will be the subject of compulsory retirement in the not-too-distant future – and while I don’t expect people to sympathise with my own position, the proposed changes will have a considerable impact on the British police service as we know it.

“In North Devon as elsewhere there are less police officers working than there were and the numbers will continue to fall.”

He said the number of North Devon officers in London formed one of the largest contingents of the Devon and Cornwall force, which also represented one of the largest force contingents.

The march also highlighted a call for rights to take industrial action, which as officers of the Crown they are currently unable to do.

Insp Puffitt added: “In my opinion as a representative of police officers, the majority have significant concerns about what the future holds, not only for themselves but also the communities they serve.”

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