04/03/2013 06:49 GMT | Updated 04/03/2013 06:49 GMT

Police Federation Members Fail In Vote For Right To Strike Over Cuts

Police officers across England and Wales have failed to gain enough votes in a poll seeking the right to strike.

According to the Police Federation, less than half of their membership took part in the ballot, scuppering any hopes of a firm mandate for action under the federation's rules.

The vote, in which nearly 46,000 members voted in favour with around 11,000 against (a total of 133,000 members were polled) follows an on going dispute over spending, with a proposed 20% cut in police numbers, as well as changes to pension, conditions and pay.

Chairman of the federation, Steve Williams, 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 potentially 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.

Damian Green, the minister for policing and criminal justice, applauded the vote's failure, despite the large turnout in favour of the right to take action. He said: "I am pleased the vast majority of police officers do not want the right to strike - their work is too important.

"Our police have done a fantastic job to cut crime by 10% over the first two years of this Government, despite having to play their role in cutting the country's record deficit.

"The Federation has a key role to play in driving our reforms on improving professionalism and leadership across all ranks and I look forward to working closely with them in the future."

Williams was non-committal on the next move for the federation. He said: "Our members value their unique employment status as servants of the crown (the Office of Constable), and I believe the vast majority of them would view industrial action as a last resort.

"However, the significant number that voted in favour of the right to take industrial action have done so in response to the reforms and changes to policing which are being proposed and implemented by the government, and the impact those changes are having on officers' ability to do their jobs and on their morale."