National Federation chair John Apter has taken the Home Secretary to task over the Government’s decision to freeze police pay despite officers’ efforts during the pandemic.
In his keynote speech to conference, he thanked Home Secretary Priti Patel for responding to the other items he had on his ‘wish list’, such as the Police Covenant, better protections for police drivers, Specials being allowed to join the Federation and increased sentences for officer assaults.
But he said there was one ask that still seems to fall on deaf ears – fair pay for police officers.
John told conference: “In real terms, officers have already had to suffer an 18 per cent cut in pay during the last decade. We need a pay review body that we can have faith in, a pay mechanism that we can trust, and an independent process, without the hands of the pay review body being tied. And then, we need a binding agreement from Government that it will adopt fully the recommendations.
“Many of my colleagues already feel betrayed by changes to the police pension scheme, with many of them seeing their future security eroded by these changes.
“And then, on top of everything else, to announce a pay freeze which will hit the pockets of police officers who have absolutely stepped up during this crisis, often putting their lives in danger during this pandemic, this really does stick in the throat.”
He questioned how it could be right or fair and added: “Now, as police officers, we don’t have the same rights as others. We can’t strike, we can’t take industrial action if we feel we have been treated unfairly…. and we can’t withdraw our labour. We also have restrictions on our private lives, unlike most other workers.
“For years, successive governments have respected this. They have recognised that, in the absence of those industrial rights, police officers should be fairly rewarded but in recent years this has changed.
“Well, Home Secretary, if that is the case, then it might be time for some other changes.”
The Home Secretary, in praising officers for their work during the pandemic, voicing her support for their role and saying it was her job to make sure officers had what they needed to do their job, failed to mention the issue of officer pay.
Earlier in the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government was backing policing in a video address to conference.
Kit Malthouse, policing minister, also took part in a debate about Policing Under Pressure with a panel that also included Sir Thomas Winsor, the chief inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
There was a tribute to bravery award nominees and the Women in Policing Award was presented to Avon and Somerset Chief Inspector Sharon Baker.