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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 10:06 GMT
Beat officers 'oppose police reforms'
Police officers
The Bill aims to free-up highly trained officers
Officers on the beat will reject radical reforms of the police service in England and Wales, according to a police constable.

The Police Federation is to ballot its members over proposals in the wide-ranging Police Reform Bill next month.

But Police Constable Anthony Marchant told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the plans had already caused "a lot of anger" among rank and file officers.

"There has been little consultation between us and other officials," he said.

It is hard enough for us trying to deal with people on the street - and we are police officers

Police Constable Anthony Marchant

"We work very hard for the money we earn - and we see it as a kick in the teeth."

The Bill, published on Friday, will confirm that civilian wardens - to be called "community support officers" - will have the power to detain suspects until the police arrive and conduct house-to-house inquiries.

The move is aimed at freeing up highly trained and better-paid officers to work on more serious crime.

But Pc Marchant, who has served in the Metropolitan Police for 13 years, was critical of plans to extend police powers to civilians.

'Huge expectation'

"It is hard enough for us trying to deal with people on the street - and we are police officers," he told Today.

"It would be much harder for a civilian warden."

His views were echoed by Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, who said the creation of community support officers threatened to undermine the relationship of the police with the public.

What people want is a properly trained and properly resourced police service

Glen Smyth,
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman

"If you remove the police further and further away from the public - and we are already being accused of that now - the relationship is likely to be weakened even further," he told Today.

"It is so important that we make sure that if we are going to invest powers in people, the people who have those powers are properly trained and properly resourced.

"We are going to let these people out onto the streets of the capital with little or no training and a huge expectation from the public and their ability to deliver is going to be severely limited.

"What people want is a properly trained and properly resourced police service."

Mr Smyth said the reforms would not work unless there was "massive investment".

"The police service is pretty angry and demoralised, because they feel that the government and the Home Office have been indulging in a campaign for at least the last 15 to 18 months where they have dragged the police service's name and that of police officers through the mud."

Metropolitan PC Anthony Marchant
"There is a lot of anger over the proposals"
See also:

25 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Police Reform Bill unveiled
05 Dec 01 | UK Politics
'Radical' police reform unveiled
05 Dec 01 | England
Wardens welcome patrol reform
29 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Police anger over Blunkett reforms
12 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett reveals police reform plans
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