Police set to vote on right to strike as cuts bite

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Rank-and-file officers across England and Wales will be balloted on whether they want the right to strike, the Police Federation said.

All 135,000 members will be asked for their views on the key issue in the wake of 20 per cent budget cuts and proposals for the most wide-ranging reform of police pay and conditions in more than 30 years.

Along with the Armed Forces and prison officers, the police are banned in law from taking industrial action.

The federation added that it would also hold an event in London “to highlight the unprecedented attack on policing by this Government and the consequences these cuts will have for public safety”.

A spokeswoman said: “At the meeting of the Police Federation’s joint central committee today, the decision was taken to ballot the entire membership as to whether they wish the Police Federation of England and Wales to seek full industrial rights.

“The federation’s 135,000 members will be provided with all relevant information and the ballot will be held as soon as possible.

“In tandem, the Police Federation will explore all the consequences, including the legal position, with regards to police officers obtaining full industrial rights.”

She added the federation’s national committee also called for Home Secretary Theresa May to reject Tom Winsor’s proposed reforms to police pay and conditions published last week.

Mr Winsor’s 18-month review of pay and conditions signalled the end of a job for life as he called for Chief Constables to be able to make officers redundant in the face of budget cuts.

Some staff associations saw the absence of the right to strike as the reason why a protection from compulsory redundancy was needed.

But his review found that the “inability of a right to strike does not carry with it an inseparable immunity from redundancy” in the Armed Forces.

The current pay system, which was based on a 1920s design of rewarding years of service, should be overhauled and replaced with one based on merit, he said.

He also called for annual fitness tests to be brought in, with those who repeatedly fail at risk of being docked almost £3,000 and, in the most extreme cases, sacked for unsatisfactory performance.

A new educational requirement should also be brought in, with applicants needing the equivalent of three A-levels at grades A to C, along with direct entry for civilians into the ranks of inspector and superintendent.

The long-awaited review also said the starting salary for police constables should be cut from the current £23,500 to £19,000 for someone with no police-related experience.

Among the 121 recommendations, the report said there should be higher pay for more demanding jobs, pay linked to skills and performance rather than length of service, and an allowance for working unsocial hours, defined as outside 8am to 6pm.