Angry police officers will hold an emergency meeting today to consider whether they should take action to gain the right to strike amid the ongoing pay row.
By law, the police force cannot strike. But leaders are attending a Police Federation crisis summit to discuss their next move, which could include balloting members on whether the police should seek to have the right to take industrial action.
Meanwhile, home secretary Jacqui Smith is facing mounting pressure over her decision not to backdate a 2.5% pay rise for police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to September 2007.
Some 78 MPs have signed a motion tabled by the home affairs select committee chair, Keith Vaz, urging a rethink.
But Smith said she did not believe most officers wanted the right to strike.
Home Office minister Tony McNulty told BBC One’s Breakfast programme that the government was “wedded” to a public sector pay policy to hold back inflation.
“I have enormous respect for the police, but we do need to keep those inflationary pressures down,” he said.
Police Federation chair Jan Berry said its members would stand firm in their battle to have their pay rise backdated to September, like their colleagues in Scotland.