Low turnout sinks police’s vote on strikes

NO ACTION Police officers voted for the right to strike ' but not enough did for the campaign to continue
NO ACTION Police officers voted for the right to strike ' but not enough did for the campaign to continue

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POLICE officers in Hampshire voted for being allowed the right to strike – but across the country not enough joined the ballot to make it count.

The vote for the right to take industrial action was conducted throughout England and Wales by the Police Federation, and came after proposed cuts to pay and benefits for officers.

Of 133,000 members across the country, 45,651 were in favour and 10,681 were against. This is an 81 per cent majority, but only a 42 per cent turnout,. and it had to be at least 50 per cent across England and Wales for the federation to lobby for the changes.

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1,805 officers voted in the ballot, a turnout of 60 per cent, and of those 74 per cent said they wanted to have industrial rights.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight federation chairman John Apter said he would now be involved in national meetings of the federation to discuss the next steps.

He added: ‘There have been an awful lot of bad words exchanged between the federation and the government, and it’s time to sit back and discuss in a sensible way the reality of the cuts facing police officers.’

Mr Apter said a 20 per cent cut in the policing budget, a loss of 450 officers during the next three years, changes to pensions, a massive reduction in wages for constables is what led to the vote.

Police officers are not able to take industrial action as they are designated as Servants of the Crown, rather than employees.

Steve Williams, chairman of the federation, said: ‘A significant proportion of our membership has indicated that they want the right to take industrial action. This highlights the pressures currently felt by rank and file officers throughout England and Wales. However, it would not be appropriate to undertake a course of action that could change the employment status of more than 133,000 police officers if fewer than half of those officers have voted for us to do so.’