I never thought I would see the day when British police officers would be voting on whether they wanted the right to strike.
The simple point that the Police Federation is now balloting its 130,000 members about the ability to take industrial action is proof, on its own, that things have gone badly pear shaped.
The Fed will need 65,000 ‘yes’ votes in order to pursue this issue and it will be interesting to see how many officers vote and how they vote. The larger the number of ‘yes’ votes as a proportion of the total vote, will give a good indication of the level of disquiet within the service.
Personally, I would be surprised if the target of 65,000 is reached and I have my fingers crossed it isn’t.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only madness going on. The government is actively pursuing, and eager to see, foreign police officers in charge of police forces in this country. When Steve Finnigan, the current chief constable of Lancashire retires in the next couple of years, surely I can’t be on my own in not wanting an American law enforcement officer in charge of our police service.
There are significant differences in the policing of this country and most other countries in the world. The first big one is that we have an unarmed police service, which means our style of policing is totally different to those that are. Also, the British culture being policed is significantly different to other countries.
Although I am totally against the idea, mischievously I would love to witness interactions between local Lancashire politicians, the public and for example, a former police chief from Los Angeles. There would be a big fall out the first time that he called Preston North End a ‘soccer’ club or talked about downtown Penwortham!
Another piece of insanity is the proposal to bring in direct entry superintendents with no previous policing experience and only 15 months training. However, it has now been confirmed they would not be allowed to investigate murders or other serious crimes, manage firearms or public order incidents.
Well if they aren’t doing any of those things then, they are not senior police officers and will have no operational credibility with the public or police officers. Overall, the police service is facing too much change, which is being implemented far too quickly. Many of the bright ideas are ill thought through with no actual evidence they will work or improve a police service, which is still considered to be the best in the world.
My greatest hope at the moment though, is that this nonsense of police wanting the right to strike falls at the first hurdle.
If you would like Mick Gradwell to give a talk to your society, a presentation or an educational lecture, contact 01253 600800 for further information.