Police services are facing job losses of 28,000 and police pay is being pushed down. The starting rate for a constable is to be cut by £4,000 so salaries will now begin at £19,000. Late last year p olice marched in protest through London and in a recent ballot over one third of rank and file officers voted for the right to take industrial action.
A Police Federation spokesperson said that a significant number in the force had favoured the right to industrial action, because of the impact that government policy is having on policing, and on officers and their morale.
In fact the Federation did not get a sufficient mandate to pursue their demand for the reversal of the ban on police action that has been in place since after the 1919 police strike. This ban is now enshrined in the Police Act 1996 which makes it a criminal offence to cause “disaffection amongst members of any police force.”
The government has responded the lack of a mandate with smug condescension. Police Minister, Damian Green pointed to the fact that under half the Federation members eligible had participated. However 45,651 police (81% of participants) voted in favour, which amounts to 34% of Federation membership. Maybe Green has forgotten that the total vote in November’s Police and Crime Commissioners elections was 14.7% of the electorate. Not one constituency reached a turn out of 20%, and some Commissioners got in with just over 6% of the franchise.