The Police Federation of England & Wales no longer has confidence in the current Home Secretary.
Following an extraordinary National Council meeting today, the organisation has also made a decision to withdraw its support and engagement from the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB), labelling the current police officer pay mechanism ‘not fit for purpose’.
The move follows Wednesday’s pay announcement and Home Secretary Priti Patel’s claim that the Government ‘recognises the bravery, commitment and professionalism’ of police officers, while offering no improved financial package to our members to illustrate that is the case.
During the National Council meeting, those present overwhelmingly supported a vote of no confidence in the Home Secretary and the PRRB process for police officer pay.
There is enormous anger within policing, with officers across England and Wales saying the Government takes them for granted and treats them with contempt.
The warm words officers heard from the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister at PFEW’s recent annual conference have not been backed up with action. Far from it. This week’s pay announcement essentially amounts to a pay cut. It is an insult to the thousands of brave men and women who do so much for their communities.
Steve James, Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation, said: “The Governments decision to give police officers a pay cut this year– and don’t be mistaken, that’s what it is – is an insult to every officer across the country.
“Police officers, like other emergency workers, have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic. We have been coughed and spat on as people tried to deliberately infect us with covid-19, and seen a general local and national rise in assaults on officers. We have helped manage the dead in temporary mortuarys and we have put ourselves at risk of infection everyday. We have had to interpret and enforce coronavirus legislation that repeatedly changed, often on a daily basis, in a shambolic rollout of rules where legislation and guidance often conflicted. This put us in conflict with a confused and scared public on a daily basis.
“What thanks do we receive? A pay freeze that against inflation is in effect a 3% pay cut. This is a complete betrayal by this government.
“The government have made it clear that the independent Police Remuneration Review Body is in no way independent at all. In four of the last five years they have disregarded the PRRBs recommendations and given officers less. This year they did not allow the PRRB to even consider the possibility of a pay increase for officers. It is this contempt for a supposedly independent process that has forced PFEW to withdraw from the PRRB and to express no confidence in the Home Secretary, and it a position we wholeheartedly support in Gloucestershire.
“Officers shouldn’t be fooled by Home Office talk of increases in police numbers of police funding either. Promises of 20000 extra officers are still to be delivered. Even then this will still leave us with fewer officer than we had in 2010. Taking into account population growth over that time, that’s even fewer officers per population. There are simply less officers being increasingly asked to do more.
“Increases in local funding have largely been driven by indirectly forcing PCCs to continually increase local council tax precepts. This money comes directly from your pocket, not from central government funding. Police funding is still a postcode lottery and still below 2010 levels.
“This government uses fine words to express its support for policing but words are nothing without actions.”
For too long PFEW has also been forced to enter into an unfair pay process with the odds weighted firmly in the favour of the Government.
The PRRB’s lack of independence is something the body recognises itself and even highlights in its report.
With inflation set to increase to almost four per cent later this year, this is yet another real-terms pay cut for police officers in England and Wales and a huge slap in the face for our members who have been attacked and vilified while holding the frontline during this pandemic.
PFEW has tried its level best to be entirely co-operative in all dealings with Government. But this Government and this Home Secretary, for all their talk of how much they value what we do, have made this impossible. They cannot be trusted or taken at face value in the way we would expect.
As the undisputed voice of policing we say this to the Home Secretary: you cannot pat our members on the back for their heroic efforts with one hand, while effectively taking their pay with the other. Warm words are no longer enough.