Police vote to demand right to strike fails

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“This highlights the pressures currently felt by rank and file officers throughout England and Wales.

“However, it would not be appropriate to undertake a course of action that could potentially change the employment status of more than 133,000 police officers if fewer than half of those officers have voted for us to do so.”

But he dismissed suggestions that the federation was now left looking weak.

“I disagree with that completely, it’s certainly not a sign of weakness,” he said.

“I felt it was important that we set that threshold of 50% before campaigning for any changes.

“It is only right and proper that the threshold was set so high before trying to change the terms and conditions of service for all officers.”

He went on: “Our members value their unique employment status as servants of the crown (the Office of Constable), and I believe the vast majority of them would view industrial action as a last resort.

“However, the significant number that voted in favour of the right to take industrial action have done so in response to the reforms and changes to policing which are being proposed and implemented by the government, and the impact those changes are having on officers’ ability to do their jobs and on their morale.”

Mr Williams also insisted the vote sent an “interesting message to government” over officers’ anger and frustration over force budget cuts of 20%, changes to pay and conditions, and the threat of compulsory severance being brought in.

Suggested reforms include cutting pay for new police constables by £4,000 to £19,000, as well as a fast-track scheme to allow constables to rise to the rank of inspector in just three years, while foreign candidates could be able to apply for chief constable roles for the first time.

It is illegal for officers to take industrial action and the last official strike was believed to be almost a century ago in 1919.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, told officers last year that the right to strike was “off the table”.

Damian Green, the Policing Minister, said: “I am pleased the vast majority of police officers do not want the right to strike – their work is too important.

“Our police have done a fantastic job to cut crime by 10% over the first two years of this Government, despite having to play their role in cutting the country’s record deficit.

“The federation has a key role to play in driving our reforms on improving professionalism and leadership across all ranks and I look forward to working closely with them in the future.”

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