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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 14:16 GMT
Police fury over pay proposals
Tony Blair inspects police recruits
Officers know they can embarrass the government
Police are furious at government plans to change their pay and working conditions, according to senior officers.

Police Federation chairman Fred Broughton said there was "widespread discontent" among the workforce about the proposals.

His view was echoed by Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, who said there was "massive anger" at proposed cuts in overtime pay, sick pay and allowances.


We have a very angry workforce

Fred Broughton
Police Federation chairman

Federation officials representing all 43 forces in England and Wales are holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss possible avenues of response to the proposals made by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

It is illegal for the 125,000 rank and file officers to strike, but possible action includes work to rule or protest rallies to gain public support.

Under Mr Blunkett's reform plans, police would be expected to work more flexibly but could receive special bonuses.

Negotiations continue

Another central plank in the white paper is the introduction of community support officers (CSOs) who would have power of arrest under certain circumstances.

Mr Broughton said: "We are in the middle of difficult negotiations and we have a very angry workforce".

"Officers are disgruntled at the prospect of working longer hours for less money and the proposals to introduce wardens and private security policing."

And Mr Smyth accused the government of exaggerating police sickness levels and "vilifying" officers by "branding them lazy".

He told the BBC the proposals themselves and the manner in which they had been discussed had aroused resentment among officers.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Despite a plea by the Home Office not to negotiate in public through the newspapers, that's exactly what they've done, indulging in a softening up campaign by vilifying the good name of the vast majority of police officers by branding them as lazy."

Deadline

He added: "Anger is absolutely massive."

He said that in order to achieve the efficiencies demanded by the government, civilian staff would need to be recruited to take on many tasks currently performed by police officers day and night.

But extending civilian policing is opposed by many officers.

Mr Smyth predicted goodwill would evaporate and officers currently doing important work as unpaid overtime may not be so willing in future.

A Home Office spokesman said the reforms were aimed at making the police more effective.
Police guard the Houses of Parliament
Police say most officers would be worse off

He said: "To do this the police service needs modern management and personnel practices.

"In October, the Government asked the police negotiating board to look at reforms to the pay and terms and conditions of police officers, which is what they are looking at.

"Measures to achieve this are being discussed at the moment."

The police have been given a deadline of 27 December to agree to the plans, a date federation officials have branded as "unrealistic".

The controversial proposals on pay and civilian officers were part of the government white paper unveiled earlier this month.

Other plans include the creation of a national centre for policing excellence to train officers and a pilot scheme of a non-emergency contact number called Police Direct, to take the pressure off 999 operators.

Mr Blunkett also wants to set up an independent Police Complaints Commission, in which civilians will play a greater role in investigating complaints against officers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Plans for drastic changes have infuriated officers"
The BBC's John Pienaar
"David Blunkett isn't a minister to run away from a fight"
Fred Broughton, Chairman of the Police Federation
"It does not look like modernisation to us"
Norman Baker, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman
"He does seem to be antagonising the police"
See also:

29 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Police anger over Blunkett reforms
17 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Q&A: Police reform white paper
02 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Plan to reform 'failing' police
26 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett lives up to hard man image
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Top police recruits to be fast-tracked
12 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett reveals police reform plans
01 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Police red tape targeted
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