Home secretary dismisses police strike threat

Home secretary Jacqui Smith dismissed fears that police officers would go on strike as a result of the ongoing police pay dispute and denied they were demotivated.

Of 60,000 members polled by the Police Federation, 86% voted in favour of the organisation pushing for a change in the law to allow officers to take industrial action.

They are furious about Smith’s decision to ignore the recommendations of an independent pay arbitration body and effectively cut their 2007 pay rise from 2.5% to 1.9%.

But Smith told Personnel Today: “I don’t believe most police officers want to strike, and I know the public don’t want them to strike and, therefore, I don’t think that they will.”

She added: “I don’t think from my experience of talking to officers that they are unmotivated. They’re angry about the decision I took.”

But while Police Federation chairman Jan Berry agreed that many officers, including herself, would not strike, she argued that new officers might be more inclined to do so.

“I do understand there are people joining the service today who don’t have the same view as me, and the more government treats officers with this type of contempt, the closer we get to the tipping point for strike action,” she warned.

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