( dpa ) - Thousands of police officers were on the march in London Wednesday in a mass protest against an "unfair pay deal" offered by the British Labour government of Gordon Brown.
The officers, who had come to the capital from all over England and Wales, are angry that a 2.5-per cent pay rise has been backdated only to December 1, and not to last September.
They maintain that, effectively, their salaries will rise by only 1.9 per cent.
The police federation, which expected up to 18,500 officers to take part in the rally, said the protest illustrated the "deep anger" felt by officers who believe they have been treated "unfairly."
The unusual sight of thousands of policemen snaking through the centre of London, from Hyde Park to the Westminster Parliament, is uncomfortable news for Brown, who has ordered public sector pay restraint to keep inflation under control.
The officers, wearing white caps with the inscription "fair p(l)ay for police," were planning to hand in a petition to their "boss," Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, before proceeding to lobby their members of parliament.
The march, the first since some 5,000 police officers protested against more flexible pay and conditions six years ago, would be "controlled and dignified," the police federation said.
The officers, who do not have the right to strike, want their pay rise backdated to September, as it has been in Scotland, but not in other parts of Britain - England, Wales and Northern Ireland.