Police officers feel undervalued, disheartened and let down by the government’s pay award – a flat increase of £1,900 across all ranks – the head of the Police Federation for England and Wales has said.
National chair Steve Hartshorn said the award was “simply insufficient” in light of the cost-of-living crisis, and failed to address the real-terms pay cut that police officers have been facing for more than a decade.
He said: “Since the announcement of the government’s pay award … there have been mixed reactions across our membership, and rightly so. We share the anger and frustration of those officers who feel undervalued, disheartened and let down by the award and by the government.”
The pay award meant that most officers would receive a below-5% pay increase, leaving them worse off financially than they were last year.
Hartshorn did, however, welcome the rise in the starting pay for new joiners on the police constable degree apprenticeship route, but said for “everyone else from PC to chief inspector, the settlement has fallen far short of what these officers need”.
He described the award, in the context of higher rank, experienced officers, as “wildly out of touch” and as “another insult from the government”.
Hartshorn added that, as newly qualified officers would proportionally benefit more from the flat rate increase, the award was divisive and would leave more experienced officers feeling resentful.
The past 12 years have seen police pay fail to rise in real times, because of the public sector pay freeze. Hartshorn claimed that by October the real terms pay cut experienced by police as compared with 2010 was around 28%.
Police officers are not permitted to take strike action and because they frequently put their lives on the line should be entitled to above inflation pay increases, said Hartshorn.
He added that the award would likely accelerate attrition rates that have been rising since 2010 and would add fuel to Federation’s campaign for the Police Remuneration Review Body to be fully independent – currently, there is no mechanism to reject or contest the government’s pay reward based on PRRB recommendations.
“Ultimately,” said Hartshorn, “we want all officers to be treated fairly, to receive a proportionate pay increase and this will be our aim moving forward. We will not stop until police officers receive what they are due. Policing in our country is in huge crisis and the government must step up.”