Police officers are to vote today on whether to accept the government's planned pay and restructuring package.
Members of the Police Federation – some 126,000 officers from constable to chief inspector rank – are voting on Home Secretary David Blunkett's proposed reorganization of their overtime system, pay scale and allowances.
They will also be asked several question on the reasons for their decision. The result of the ballot will not be known until 25 February at the earliest.
Even if Police Federation members do not approve the package, Blunkett has the power to enforce its terms.
"We promised our members almost a year ago that as and when firm proposals were made by the government we would ask for their opinion before deciding whether or not to accept the deal," Police Federation Chairman Fred Broughton said.
The federation has set up 250 voting booths which will be staffed by the opinion polling organization MORI from 7 am until midnight in police stations across England and Wales. Members working overseas have been offered a postal ballot.
The government's would raise all pay scales by £400 annually, make it easier for officers to rise up the scales and offer an extra "competence related" pay tier paying a bonus of £1,002.
There will also be special payments for officers in specialized or difficult jobs of between £500 to £5,000 a year.
Some officers have said they have not received enough information from chief constables on how the special payments would be applied. The deal would also cut back on overtime payments and abolish a number of allowances.Reuse content