A furious row over a pay raise for police officers erupted in Britain last night, with the Labour government divided against itself and constables threatening a wildcat strike. The Times of London reports that the home secretary's decision not to backdate a 2.5% pay increase by 3 months, as recommended by an arbitrator, has led 10 ministers to protest, and police have suggested they might walk off the job or refuse to guard prisoners.
Constables in Britain are forbidden from striking, but the police-officers union is holding a meeting today to poll members about whether to seek the right to strike. The delay means that Scottish police will get a bigger raise than their British counterparts. The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, is holding firm, but the head of the police union warned her that she had "broken the trust of the police service."