Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever has directly appealed to the Conservatives to keep police officers’ three-year pay deals and pensions intact should they come to power next year.
Addressing police officers during his keynote speech at the federation’s annual conference today, McKeever was expected to say it would be “unfair” to attack police pensions in response to private sector final salary pensions diminishing during the recession.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne last month said the Tories would review three-year pay deals across the public sector if they were elected next year, including those for police officers, to reflect the fact that inflation was zero and unlikely to rise to meet the 2.6% deal given to police officers for some time.
Under the current government, multi-year pay deals would continue for police, teachers and NHS staff until 2011.
But McKeever is expected to say: “George Osborne had announced that the Conservatives would revisit our hard-fought three-year pay deal. The Conservatives have now announced they would look to reform our pensions. Look, we are ordinary men and women and we understand that many people in the private sector have seen their pensions erode, often unfairly and totally beyond their control.
“Friends of mine have lost their pensions, but two wrongs don’t make a right. We have done nothing wrong and any attempt to attack our pensions would simply be unfair.”
At last year’s Police Federation conference, police were in the middle of a highly sensitive pay dispute with the government, after home secretary Jacqui Smith refused to back date the independently arbitrated 2.5% pay deal to September 2007, effectively awarding officers just 1.9%. The saga brought fresh claims that police may seek the right to strike.
One year on, McKeever acknowledged the federation would not “dig over old territory” but again called on the home secretary to honour any new pay deals independently negotiated. “Binding arbitration is all we’re asking for from the home secretary. It’s only fair play.”
He claimed the national ‘workforce modernisation’ programme – so called for its attempt to get non-police officers to carry out traditional police officer tasks to free up front-line time – was merely language designed to “con” police over the fact that fully-trained officers were losing their jobs.
As part of the workforce modernisation programme, more police community support officers have been brought in to create a stronger visual police presence, and back-office support staff have undertaken police officer paperwork.
However, McKeever said: “Don’t be conned by chief constables and police authorities blindly following the workforce modernisation HR pied pipers, because we are in danger of seeing police officer numbers fall and with it a loss of resilience.”
“Why is it that other countries look at UK police officers with envy, yet we are on the precipice of giving up what has made us the very best police service in the world. Home secretary, police officer numbers cannot be allowed to fall,” he added.