Home Secretary Priti Patel has insisted she is committed to improving pay and conditions for police officers and said she wanted to work closely with the Police Federation to resolve the long running row over remuneration.
Speaking on the opening day of the 2022 annual conference, Ms Patel urged new national chair Steve Hartshorn to re-engage with the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) to help reach a fresh pay deal.
The Police Federation withdrew from the official police pay review body last year after branding it not fit for purpose and rejecting its claims to be independent from the Government.
Ms Patel, who was subject to a Federation vote of no confidence after confirming a pay freeze for officers earning more than £24,000, said the PRRB played an important role advising the Government and urged the Police Federation to reconsider its position.
She said she regretted the Police Federation had not been “at the table” for recent pay negotiations and added: “I strongly urge the Police Federation to engage with the PRRB, which has a key role in advising the Government on pay and conditions for police officers.
“I want the voices of your members to be heard in this process, loudly and clearly.”
Steve said the PRRB “hands were tied by the Government” and called it “anything other than independent”.
He said the “lack” of pay “sticks in the throat” of members and caused them the “greatest hardship”.
“Why are my colleagues one of the only groups of frontline public sector workers being penalised in their pockets?” he asked.
Ms Patel told the conference: “We have to move this forward. You have that commitment from me, you absolutely do.”
Ms Patel had earlier praised all police officers for the work they did, saying she was full of admiration for the sacrifices they and their loved ones made.
She said: “Thank you for the incredible work that you do, the way in which you engage and work with us.
“We share a huge, deep admiration when it comes to policing and it is my desire and imperative to ensure that, not only do we fund and resource policing but also make sure that policing remains the best it possibly can be, the most rewarding profession and a first class public service.
“Nobody does a harder job or a better one than the police, no one does more to make our country great and nobody gives greater public service.
“And it is that essence of public service that unites all of us and that is why coming together and finding a different way of working is going to be so important.”
Ms Patel again insisted she was “very proudly pro-police” and said she viewed politicians and commentators who attempted to undermine the service with a “degree of contempt”.
She told delegates she was a Home Secretary who “champions many officers’ calls in Government” and hailed Boris Johnson’s bid to recruit 20,000 more police officers by 2023 and insisted the uplift programme was still on track to meet its targets.
The Home Secretary said she wanted to give police officers the “confidence to use their powers fairly, appropriately and in the right places”.
But she told officers they had to work to “create a better culture and higher standards”.
She said: “The public are in urgent need of reassurance. I am unequivocal that unacceptable behaviour must be rooted out and called out.
“Lessons must be learned, and every necessary change must be made, without fear or favour.
“Public confidence in the police could not matter more – you cannot do your jobs if consent and support break down, and I know that you want the public to feel safe and secure – indeed that’s why you chose this career.”