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Seventy per cent of Cumbria's police officers would fight for right to strike

Seven out of 10 Cumbrian police officers would fight for the right to strike if the Government adopts a controversial package of reforms which could leave them at risk of being made redundant.

Lee Skelton photo
Lee Skelton

A report by former rail regulator Tom Winsor proposes a radical shake-up of how officers are managed.

The ideas include an option to appoint superintendents and chief constables who have never been police officers and the introduction of performance related pay.

Officers could also risk loss of pay – or even dismissal – if they fail an annual fitness test. The most controversial idea is that chief constables would be able to make any officer redundant.

But Inspector Lee Skelton, chairman of Cumbria Police Federation, said Cumbrian officers have been infuriated by the report, the second produced by Mr Winsor.

If adopted, the reforms would undermine the cherished status of police officers as crown servants, he said.

In that role, no police officer currently has the right to strike and they are at risk of being recalled to duty at any time should a public emergency require it.

“Officers in Cumbria and across the north west are extremely angry about this,” said Inspector Skelton.

“We have done an email survey of officers in Cumbria and around 250 – about 25 per cent of the total – have responded so far. Of [those], 70 per cent have said that given the current circumstances they would be prepared to consider withdrawing their labour; and 95 per cent support the notion of withdrawing good will.

“So we’re talking about serious numbers who are prepared to look at striking or working to rule.

“From a personal point of view, it’s a very sad day for the police force. Policing is not just another job; it needs to be protected as a vocation.”

Inspector Skelton said there was particular concern at the idea of dispensing with the traditional two-year probationary period all officers must serve before they can rise through the ranks.

Officers are likely to be formally balloted in the coming weeks about whether they want to pursue industrial rights, including the right to strike or work to rule.

Have your say

Police are the last in a long line of public sector workers that the government are having a go at. First nurses, paramedics, fire fighters now police. Let me just remind the public who they call when they need help? We in Cumbria should be mindful of all the blue light services who have done us proud over recent years. Don't know where we would be - when do the blue lights ever refuse to attend when we phone 999. If the government chose to have Winsor from private sector railway background to review the police terms and conditions there should be no surprise at the backlash. Treat a service like an industry and this is what you get. Most police are professionals, it's a vocation; treat it like a private company at your peril England.

Posted by Liz on 31 March 2012 at 13:24

if these guys go on strike their will no other option but take law into our own hands.

Posted by kev on 30 March 2012 at 21:51

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