“Home Secretary, what has gone wrong?” asked national Federation chair Steve Hartshorn as he scrutinised Priti Patel during his keynote address at this year’s annual conference for the Police Federation of England and Wales.
In keeping to his promise to continue the fight for better pay, Steve voiced his frustration at hearing his colleagues are struggling to feed their families and are going to food banks.
He said it angers him to hear of “good and experienced people talking about leaving the job, not because they want to, but because they can’t afford not to.”
He added: “Home Secretary, what has gone wrong? Why are my colleagues one of the only groups of frontline public sector workers being penalised in their pockets?
“This cannot go on. It’s time for change.
“I don’t apologise for cutting to the chase, and I don’t apologise if I sound frustrated – I am, as are our members.”
He continued to reveal that recent statistics, following a poll of 2,000 members of the public, show that 75 per cent believe the police deserve a pay rise in line with inflation.
Furthermore, 79 per cent agree that dangerous jobs, like police work, deserve the pay to reflect the work.
“That’s not us saying it Home Secretary, these are the views of the public,” he said, “Your electorate.”
He said that officers are ‘told they are brave, they are told they do a unique job.’ He said: “They were thanked for putting themselves and their families in danger as Covid gripped the country, and yet that acknowledgment amounted to nothing.
“All we are asking from the Home Secretary, is for a similar pay process to the one that you and all 650 MPs have. We are not asking for special treatment. We are asking that you remember and recognise our special responsibilities and unique status with the restrictions on our private lives and the lives of our families.”
As well as pay, Steve addressed issues surrounding pensions, presence and pride.
“It’s not unreasonable to have long-term clarity over pensions so that people can plan for their futures with certainty,” he said.
“And pride, I want police officers to be able to have pride in what they do and be treated with the respect they deserve.”
In terms of presence, he explained: “Government, Police leaders and the media must listen to us and hear what we say, because we are the undisputed voice of policing.”
Steve, who became national chair on 1 April this year, spoke of representing 139,000 members across the nation, and made an impassioned plea for the Home Secretary to work towards creating a new medal for all emergency service workers killed on duty.
He also pointed out: “And Home Secretary, when we raise issues with you, we don’t do it to cause problems, we do it to make you aware of what police officers are telling us. We are their body, their voice – in statute, in law. This is what makes us different from other groups in policing.”
Steve ended by asking for change from the Home Secretary, after making no apologies for his list of demands given during the address.
“I make no apology for this being such a long list of asks. Some come at a cost, but others are free, and while they cannot happen overnight, next week is a great time to start,” he concluded.
“And this is all I will ask of you today, Home Secretary, so on behalf of my colleagues across England and Wales, it’s time for change.”