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Home secretary stands firm as police vote for right to strike

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The home secretary has warned police officers they will gain little from striking.

The reaction comes as news that the Police Federation union will lobby the Government for the right to strike emerged this week.

“I know you strongly disagree with the decision but it was one that I took only after a lot of thought, after considering the full facts of the case,” said home secretary Jacqui Smith, as she addressed 1,000 delegates from England and Wales at the Police Federation Annual Conference in Bournemouth yesterday (Wednesday).

While Smith said she “did not set out to alienate police officers", she did warn them that “setting out on the road to the right to strike will only lead to a dead end”.

On Tuesday of this week, members of the Police Federation showed themselves overwhelmingly in favour of lobbying the Government for the right to take industrial action, with 86% of members voting for it.

Under UK law, police officers are not permitted to take industrial action. But the controversy around pay deals at the end of last year – when officers were offered a 2.5% pay rise, which they say was a cut in real terms – has left many wanting the option of striking.

 “This is a wake-up call for the Government, and they must listen to what the police officers are telling them,” said Police Federation chairman Jan Berry, who steps down from her role today (Thursday).