Home secretary Jacqui Smith’s decision to stage the latest police pay rise was lawful, the High Court ruled today.
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 Service 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 body’s ruling.
But a High Court judge has ruled the Smith did not act illegally in her decision.
Smith had repeatedly made it 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.
Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision.
“We did not take the decision to bring this matter to court lightly, but the failure of the home secretary to fight our corner in government and her unwillingness to accept and implement the findings of an independent Police Arbitration Tribunal left us with no choice,” he said.
“Without the industrial rights enjoyed by other workers we had no other method of protesting and challenging the decision.”
Federation officials will meet this Thursday (12 June) to decide whether to appeal the decision.
Earlier this year, 25,000 police officers marched through London to show their contempt for the way the pay deal was handled, and there have been threats to lobby the government to enable police officers to strike if pay deals are enforced without independent arbitration in future.
It still remains to be seen whether police will lobby for industrial action rights.