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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 06:26 GMT
Police wooed with pay deal
Riot police
It is illegal for police officers to strike
The government has offered police officers in England and Wales a package that includes a 400 pay rise for every officer, after talks with the Police Federation.

Some officers could get up to 1,000 a year once they have proved their competence and some could receive as much as an additional 5,000.

But the federation acknowledges approval of the deal could be doubtful once officers see the new conditions they will have to accept.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has been calling for major reforms aimed at shaking up police working practices.

Costly abuses

He has demanded more consistent clear-up rates for crime and a reduction in what he believes have been costly abuses of sick leave and early retirement on medical grounds.

The chairman of the Police Federation, Fred Broughton, said the package would now be put to officers for their approval.

"We are going to need to widely consult with police officers about the detail...to see what police officers are thinking about it and feeling about it," said Mr Broughton.

I think there's a package here that enables us to achieve the radical reforms we want in policing in Britain

John Denham
Home Office Minister

The police had threatened to stage demonstrations and work to rule if the reform White Paper, which proposed changes to pay and conditions, was not diluted.

Mr Broughton added: "We've concluded the negotiations today with the best negotiated package we could achieve in the timescale."

"It's a difficult package we've been pressing hard for over many weeks and long hours tonight to try and get the compensation, the money, into the frontline officers' pay package."

'Lazy'

Home Office minister John Denham told the BBC: "We've had pretty tough but basically constructive negotiations over a number of weeks now, and I think there's a package here that enables us to achieve the radical reforms we want in policing in Britain."

He said the deal would also provide "a better and fairer pay system for police officers".

He added that the offer meant a more a flexible working system and more efficient use of officers, which would keep more experienced staff on the frontline.

Mr Blunkett's aim in his White Paper was to cut down on unnecessary paperwork and increase police visibility on the streets using civilians as patrollers.

But the Police Federation, which has 126,000 rank and file members, had fiercely opposed the proposals, claiming they would lead to pay cuts and worse conditions.
Police officers
If officers refused overtime, policing could be affected

After the talks, the federation said it could not make any further progress before consulting police officers and this meant any final agreement with the government would be delayed until probably February.

There will also have to be another meeting with the government some time in the New Year.

Mr Broughton added: "I think in this process, the government is getting what it wants in terms of modernisation.

"It's getting some flexibility, it's getting changes in working conditions.

'Bouncers'

"And the police officers are going to get extra pay in their pay package, either by the normal pay scale or by some special allowances we're trying very hard to be focused on the frontline."

He attacked the home secretary for allegedly conducting private briefings portraying frontline officers as lazy malingerers who abuse the sick pay system.

But Mr Denham denied he or Mr Blunkett had made such strong criticisms, merely an effort by them to bring parity to sickness levels between forces.
John Denham, Home Office Minister
Denham: fair pay package

Police had threatened to stage a mass rally at Sheffield Arena in a bid to embarrass Mr Blunkett in his home city.

It is illegal for officers to strike, but possible action could include work to rule or refusal to carry out voluntary duties, such as carrying firearms.

Further proposals to give civilian wardens the power to detain suspects "using reasonable force" raised concerns in the federation.

The wardens were dubbed "Blunkett's Bouncers".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"In return for their co-operation the government has put new money on the table"
Police Federation chairman Fred Broughton
"It's a difficult package we've been pressing hard for"
UK Home Office Minister John Denham MP
"A better and fairer pay system for police officers"
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
12 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett reveals police reform plans
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