Pay freeze ‘final straw’, Government told

The Police Federation has warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak that a pay freeze for its members was “the final straw”.

National chair John Apter yesterday delivered a letter to Downing Street which reveals the depth of the anger officers feel towards the Government and lays out three demands for the Government:

• Stop taking police officers for granted and treat them with respect.

• Agree to work with the Federation on an entirely new and fairer system of remuneration decision-making.

• Reverse the zero per cent pay award decision and give police officers a meaningful pay increase. 

It follows last week’s National Council meeting which passed a motion of no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel and agreed to walk away from the Police Remuneration Review Body which it branded  “not fit for purpose” after a bitterly-opposed pay freeze for officers earning more than £24,000-a-year was confirmed.

Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb said: “Our members feel very badly betrayed by the Government.

“They have worked under such incredibly hard conditions throughout the pandemic and do not feel they are being given the recognition and respect they deserve for the sacrifices they have made.

“This letter highlights the anger and frustration felt by our members who deserve so much more after all they have done.

“Hopefully, ministers will now see sense and start making moves to improve the damaged relationship between them and the police.”

The letter says: “This is about much more than money, though for many the offer of a zero per cent pay rise, after all the police have been through in helping deal with the pandemic, was the final straw.

“It is about the risks you asked us to take - which we did, because it is our duty - without proper PPE. It is about the endlessly changing and confusing Covid legislation which we were expected to police - which we did, because it is our duty. It is about your mixed messaging and lack of understanding of our role, which combined to put many of our members in invidious positions which led to them being abused and attacked.

“It is about the failure, despite the promises of the Home Secretary, to take seriously our request that police officers should be given early priority for vaccination. It is about the very strong feeling we have, not least when the Prime Minister and Home Secretary spoke at our annual conference, that the warm words flow easily, but the actions that show genuine support for the police do not.

“Just this weekend, we found out through a Sunday newspaper column about a new so-called Beating Crime Plan. We don’t need old ideas presented as new, we need genuine investment for the whole of the Criminal Justice System and genuine consultation over new ideas. Without that, this is just another ill-thought-out initiative.

“Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk. Sick of Government contempt for police. It’s time for a total reset of police-Government relations.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse promised the Government would do “other things” to make police officers feel “valued and supported”.

He told Sky News: “We want to make sure that officers feel valued and rewarded and are supported in doing their job. And while obviously a decision was taken last week around pay which is tough, there are lots of other things about policing which have been good over the last couple of years.

“It has been tough this year. I hope we can return to some kind of normality in the future, but our economy is in some difficulties. Obviously the private sector has taken a big hit and it is the private sector that pays for the public sector, and we have to balance all those things.”