Striking Cambridgeshire police staff have forced officers to step into the breach – and cancel their days off.
The constabulary has sought to reassure families that critical services will be maintained during today’s industrial action.
All rest days have been cancelled as more than 130 officers police a mass protest in Cambridge against Government cuts and back-office staff walk outs.
As schools close, bins remain uncollected, libraries shut and patients’ operations and hospital appointments are cancelled during the day of disruption, several thousand people are expected to join a protest at Parker’s Piece. At Addenbrooke’s 34 outpatients’ appointments and three operations have been cancelled, the News has been told.
Picket lines will be mounted across the city, putting further pressure on police officers, who are not allowed to go on strike.
A force spokeswoman said: “We are aware that members of police staff may be striking on November 30 and have contingency plans in place to ensure critical services are maintained.
“As part of this planning we have provided training to staff to ensure they can carry out roles in the force control room and police service centre.
“In departments where critical services are supported by police staff we will replace those striking with staff or officers who are able to perform that role.
“We have also cancelled police officer rest days to ensure we have sufficient resources to maintain business as usual while policing planned events today.”
Union groups will meet for the rally at Shire Hall and Addenbrooke’s at 11am before marching to Parker’s Piece for noon. The group will then march for about an hour around the city centre before congregating back on Parker’s Piece for an assembly.
Police have reassured residents and traders that disruption will be kept to a minimum.
Det Sup Paul Fullwood said: “The operation is about facilitating people’s right to peaceful protest, while maintaining minimal disruption for the people of Cambridge.
“The organisers’ stewards will be supported by police officers to ensure the safety of those involved and members of the public.
“People in the city centre may notice some minor disruption during the march but are urged to go about their daily business as normal.”