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New organisation challenges Police Federation role

An independent organisation, Police Choice, has been set up to campaign for and seek to obtain industrial rights for serving Policemen and Policewomen.

Police Choice is campaigning for Industrial Rights for Policemen and women

An independent organisation, Police Choice, has been set up to campaign for and seek to obtain industrial rights for serving Policemen and Policewomen.

An independent organisation, Police Choice, has been set up to campaign for and seek to obtain industrial rights for serving Policemen and Policewomen.

Its formation is a direct challenge to what the organisers call a "toothless" Police Federation, which Police Choice believes no longer reflects the interest of front line police officers.

The organisation, led by two Police Inspectors, one serving and one retired, was formed following legal advice from leading human rights law firm, Leigh Day & Co and barristers from Matrix Chambers, who confirmed that if Police Officers:

1. Donate to a fighting fund the purpose of which is to fund legal action designed to secure for police officers the right to join a union; and/or

2. Join as applicants in such a legal action; and/or

3. Become members of a support network relating to that action

Those actions of themselves will be entirely lawful and not breach the strict Police Act, which bars policemen and policewomen from belonging to or affiliating with a trade union.

The 1919 Police Act was passed following the strikes of 1918 and 1919 organised by the National Union of Police and Prison Officers (NUPPO) and outlawed the existence of a union for the Police forces.

Instead, the Police Federation of England and Wales was established and it is meant to serve as the only representative body of the Police. Police Choice has been formed following the failure by the Police Federation to campaign for industrial rights for Police Officers.

In 2008, the Police Federation held a ballot, which resulted in 80% of those who voted requesting that the Association take action to obtain industrial rights for Police Officers.

Despite this clear request from its members, however, the Association has done little to obtain these rights. Instead, it has indicated that it does not believe industrial rights “will deliver results immediately” and are in any event attempts to obtain them will be hugely expensive.

The Police Federation is in the process of organising yet another unnecessary ballot on seeking industrial rights for police officers to begin in January 2013, rather than acting on the earlier ballot result.

Police Choice is committed to creating an ethical union to meet the needs of police officers. It does not campaign for the right to strike.

Tony Munday, a retired Police Inspector and co-chair of Police Choice said:

“The British public have largely been kept in the dark about the real risks posed to Policing by consent through the introduction of we believe is a privatisation of the police service, accelerated under this current Government.

“Both the introduction of more PCSOs on the street, and Highway Agency Traffic Officers on our roads, act as a blueprint for future privatisation.

“The vast majority of Police Officers are extremely concerned by the changes to the service and are frustrated that they are unable to do anything about it through a toothless and inefficient Police Federation which is in thrall of the Government which considers its rank and file officers ‘plebs’.

“We strongly believe this is the last stand of the thin blue line”

Richard Stein a partner in the human rights department at law firm Leigh Day & Co said:

“It seems ridiculous that doctors, nurses, prison officers and other public servants can have union bodies but that the Police are left bereft of any industrial rights given the dangers they have to face amid the current political backdrop of austerity.

“What Police Choice is advocating is not strike action, it is simply the need for greater safeguards for the role of the police in society to serve the public. 

“We have been very clear with Police Choice that if police officers donate to a fighting fund the purpose of which is to fund legal action designed to secure for police officers the right to join a union and/or join as applicants in such a legal action and/or become members of a support network relating to that action then those actions of themselves will be entirely lawful."

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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Richard Stein

Rosa Curling