Several hundred off-duty police officers from Hampshire came to Westminster to lobby their MP's. Sir George Young, David Willetts, Mark Oaten, David Chidgey, Andrew Turner and Julian Lewis all came to the QE 11 Centre to listen to the concerns of the police officers.
"It made a powerful impression on all of us; the officers who spoke made it clear how frustrated they were that they were unable to give the service they wanted to give and the public wanted to get."
"The anxiety was not just about pay; it was about the way they had been treated by the Home Secretary; the growing volume of paperwork; and the increased risks that go with the job."
One issue was the proposal to recruit new Community Support Officers. "I understand that concern; I and my constituents want to see more regular police on the streets. There are fewer policemen in Hampshire now than in 1997"
"I made three commitments at the meeting. First, to write to David Blunkett to explaint the depth of feeling by police in Hampshire about the proposed reforms and to pass on the comments of officers. Second, to try to secure a debate in Parliament on Policing in Hampshire, so the issues in the county can be focussed on. Third, when the Police Reform Bill reaches the Commons, to try to ensure that there is an MP from the County on the Standing Committee that looks at the Bill in detail, so local concerns are reflected in the debate and in the Bill."
In his letter to the Home Secretary, Sir George is asking him to engage constructively in the conciliation process, to produce a package acceptable to police officers. "They cannot strike; changes in their pay and conditions should be negotiated, not imposed."