Court to rule whether home secretary Jacqui Smith acted illegally on police pay

The high court will rule whether home secretary Jacqui Smith acted illegally after her refusal to backdate the police pay rise next week (Tuesday, 10 June).

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, took Smith to court in February after she ignored an independent arbitration body’s recommendations to pay police officers a 2.5% increase for 2007-08. Instead, officers received the pay award three months late with no backdated payments, effectively reducing the rise to 1.9%.

The police and the home secretary have been locked in the bitter pay dispute since December 2007, as the federation claimed Smith had no legal power to ignore the Police Tribunal.

Some 25,000 police officers marched through London earlier this year to show their contempt for the way the pay deal was handled, and there have been threats to lobby the government to enable the service to strike if pay deals are agreed without independent arbitration in future.

At the time the federation’s application to take the government to court was accepted, former federation chair Jan Berry said: “This is a positive step for the 140,000 police officers across England and Wales in their fight for fair pay.

“The fact that our application for a judicial review has been successful adds weight to what we have been saying all along – that the home secretary betrayed police officers by failing to honour the decision of the independent Police Arbitration Tribunal.”

Smith however, has repeatedly made clear that to control inflation, the police could not be exempt from a public sector pay policy which has also seen prison officers and nurses have their pay awards staged.

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