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Bobbies vote to use ballot boxes

PUBLISHED: 22:00 07 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 March 2010

FRONT line police officers across the region have voted in a historic ballot over a new package of pay and conditions.

Members of the Police Federation in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, had the opportunity to vote to the package offered by the Home Office after negotiations with national police federation officials.

FRONT line police officers across the region have voted in a historic ballot over a new package of pay and conditions.

Members of the Police Federation in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, had the opportunity to vote to the package offered by the Home Office after negotiations with national police federation officials.

The changes effects all police officers in England and Wales and involves overtime, pay scale and allowances.

The poll involves officers from constable to chief inspector rank, who will be asked to tick a box according to whether they accept or reject the pay deal and asked about the reasons for their decision.

The package is a small part of the controversial Police Reform Bill which include the introduction of Community Support Officers or "Blunkett's Bobbies", which the police federation is opposed to.

If the 126,000 officers nationwide reject the Government offer, it will put Home Office Minister, Mr Blunkett, on a collision course with police, already anxious about his wider police reform plans.

The package on offer includes a £400 rise for all officers, "competence related" bonus, higher starting pay for older recruits and special payments for tough jobs.

Result

Opinion poll company MORI is conducting the ballot and Suffolk officers voted at force HQ at Martlesham, Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds.

The result of the nationwide ballot – the first to have been arranged on such a scale on an issue of national policy – will be known in time for a meeting of the Police Negotiating Board on Wednesday, February 27.

Police officers are prevented by law from taking any form of strike action but a "no" vote would still be a massive blow to the government.

If the Federation does not agree the package, Mr Blunkett has the power to impose his own deal.

Chris Sadler, Suffolk Police Federation chairman, said exit polls revealed that the turn out from officers was good and it was possible that the vote could be "no" because many officers felt the offer was "divisive" and it would create dissent among officers.

He added: "Unfortunately, the ballot might be clouded with other considerations such as poor morale, suspicion and distrust of politicians who seem to spend more time criticising the police service instead of encouraging it."

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