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Police May Join UK Anti-Cuts Demos

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TEHRAN, March 20 (ICANA) – British police are increasingly showing sympathy with the people protesting against the coalition government's austerity measures, the police union has warned.
Sunday, March 20, 2011 11:25:56 PM
Police May Join UK Anti-Cuts Demos

Chairman of the Police Federation Paul McKeever said the police forces are growingly opposing the speed and breadth of the government's spending cuts program, the daily Guardian reported.

The police official warned that the officers policing next weekend's huge demonstrations against the cuts would show a lot of sympathy and solidarity with the protesters.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has been organizing the March 26 event dubbed Saturday's March for an Alternative, due to be held in London's Hyde Park, which is propagated as the biggest ever rally against the coalition's policies, with organizers hoping for more than 100,000 people to attend.

“The great irony is that officers policing marches like the TUC are actually facing greater detriment than many of those protesting against the cuts,” said McKeever, whose union represents 140,000 rank-and-file police officers.

“We're not members of the TUC and have to be careful about having too close an association, though there will be a lot of sympathy towards those marching," he added.

Other protest groups along with the unions and campaign groups have been raising their voices against a raft of issues including the increase in university tuition fees, the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, bankers' bonuses, tax evasion by big business, library closures and arts and public spending cuts.

“We will get a lot of first-time protesters on Saturday because people are getting more confident that protest is for them. It's not for a bunch of anarchists, it's families, students, old people, maybe now even the odd police officer, who don't want to put up with cuts and unfairness in Britain anymore,” said one peace activist, and veteran of the anti-war marches in 2003.

Meanwhile, protest group UK Uncut has organized several sit-ins against the cuts in the past five months, which have forced the temporary closure of branches of Barclays, Vodaphone, Boots, British Home Stores and Topshop in the country.

"26 March is going to be a really important day," said Anna Walker of UK Uncut.

"We had the student protests and we have seen the growth of UK Uncut, but this is the first time we are going to have people from all over the UK together whose lives are being turned upside down by these cuts. It is going to be the start of something powerful," she said.

The Metropolitan Police has been harshly criticized for its tactics used during last year's student protests against the increase in university tuition fees.

On December 9, when the parliament was debating the bill to increase the fees, police 'kettled' protesters as young as 12 and clashes sparked when the bill was clinched, which resulted in the detention of scores of protesters. Several other protesters and police forces were also injured during the ensuing clashes.

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