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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 16:34 GMT
Blunkett attacks police 'blockers'
Police officers
Officers rejected reforms by a majority of 10-1
Home Secretary David Blunkett has accused police leaders of "misleading" rank and file officers after they delivered a crushing vote against the government's proposed reforms.

He claimed the Police Federation had mounted a sustained campaign against his modernisation plans, saying the organisation had been "at the forefront of resisting change for decades".

It is very clear that our members were determined not to accept measures that were divisive

Police Federation Chairman Fred Broughton

Earlier on Friday, police officers in England and Wales voted by an overwhelming majority of 10-1 to reject the proposals, with similar results in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But Mr Blunkett is insistent he wants his package of reforms to go ahead.

He said: "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."

"The public wants and expects us to tackle variations in police performance and be accountable for those that manage the service," he said.

'Misled'

Mr Blunkett suggested that police leaders had misinformed officers about the nature of the deal.

He said: "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."

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

The package would boost all pay scales by 400 and offer extra performance-related pay.

But it would also reduce overtime and abolish many lucrative allowances.

Police Federation chairman Fred Broughton said it would be "inappropriate" for the home secretary to impose a pay deal on the police.

Police officers are prohibited by law to go on strike. Under current regulations, they can also be legally compelled to work overtime with no warning, irrespective of domestic, social or holiday arrangements.

Mr Broughton said the deal was rejected mainly because of the overtime proposals and a lack of trust in the government.
David Blunkett
David Blunkett said a 'no' vote would be a 'disaster'

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.

"What the government has failed to realise is that you cannot manage overtime by making it cheaper - you merely abuse and demoralise officers further."

'Lack of trust'

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."

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

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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Neither side shows any sign of compromise"
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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