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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 14:09 GMT
'Massive' rejection of police pay deal
Riot police
It is illegal for police officers to strike
An unprecedented ballot of police officers has resulted in a "massive" rejection of a new pay and conditions package.

Officers in England and Wales voted against Home Secretary David Blunkett's proposals by a majority of 10-1, the Police Federation announced, with similar results in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Police pay offer
400 rise for all officers
1,002 'competence related' bonus
Higher starting pay for older recruits
Special payments of between 500 and 5,000 a year for tough jobs
But Mr Blunkett accused the federation of misleading officers and criticised its negative attitude, saying the organisation had been "at the forefront of resisting change for decades".

"I believe everyone who wants to see a reformed and modernised police service will be disappointed that once again the Police Federation has sought to block change," he said.

Officers were asked to consider a package increasing basic police salaries by 400 a year, but reducing overtime rates and allowances. They would also have been required to work more flexibly.

Federation chairman Fred Broughton said the deal was rejected mainly because of the overtime proposals and a lack of trust in the government.

'Divisive measures'

Announcing the result Mr Broughton said the federation, home secretary and police authorities must now work to find a proposal acceptable to the service.

He said: "It is very clear that our members were determined not to accept measures that were divisive, would value some officers more than others and leave thousands of frontline colleagues worse off.

David Blunkett
David Blunkett said a 'no' vote would be a 'disaster'
"What the government has failed to realise is that you cannot manage overtime by making it cheaper - you merely abuse and demoralise officers further."

Asked if the result was a vote of no confidence in the home secretary, he said: "It is certainly a lack of confidence and trust in those in authority over the police service."

However, Mr Blunkett vowed to press on with the reforms, which he said would cut crime and reassure the public.

Officers 'misled'

He stressed that the deal would mean the vast majority of officers would fare better under the new conditions.

"I know that the rank and file police officers, who so often do a superb job against the odds, were either unaware or were misled about the true nature of the rewards for reform which are on the table," he said.

"Those who mislead their colleagues or seek to undermine the package of rewards have to answer to the public for the disparity of performance and for the failure to reflect increased police numbers with an increased visible presence on the streets."

The government now intends to argue its case through an arbitration and conciliation process, starting on Monday.

No strike

Polling booths were set up by Mori at 250 police stations and training centres across England and Wales, while officers in Scotland, Northern Ireland or seconded overseas voted by post.

  • In England and Wales 84,205 officers (91%) rejected the deal and just 8,059 (9%) voted in favour, out of 126,000 serving officers in total.

  • In Scotland the 'no' vote was 94.1%, with eight out of ten of the country's 15,000 officers taking part in the ballot.

  • In Northern Ireland members of the police service rejected the offer by 89.2%, with more than 64% of the 7,000 officers voting.

Police officers are prevented by law from taking any form of strike action.

But despite, or perhaps because of, its lack of union status and inability to strike, the federation is among the most powerful trade associations in the UK.

Governments have struggled in the past to overcome its opposition to some areas of reform.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Officers felt they did not understand what was on offer"
Fred Broughton, Chairman of the Police Federation
"It is an unambiguous no"
John Denham, Home Office minister
"It's a disappointing result"
Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin
"More flexibility is desirable"
See also:

22 Feb 02 | UK Politics
'No compromise' over police pay
22 Feb 02 | Scotland
Scottish police reject pay offer
22 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
NI officers reject police pay deal
17 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Q&A: Police reform white paper
29 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Police anger over Blunkett reforms
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