Bitterly opposed pay freeze for police officers confirmed

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Plans for a bitterly opposed pay freeze for police officers have been confirmed by the Government.

In a written ministerial statement to the Commons on Wednesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that police officers earning more than £24,000 would be hit by the freeze. Those earning less will be given an annual rise of £250.

She said: “As set out at the Spending Review (2020), there will be a pause to headline pay rises for the majority of public sector workforces in 2021-22.

“This is in order to ensure fairness between public and private sector wage growth, as the private sector was significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the form of reduced hours, supressed earnings growth and increased redundancies, whilst the public sector was largely shielded from these effects.

“This approach will protect public sector jobs and investment in public services, prioritising the lowest paid, with those earning less than £24,000 (full-time equivalent) receiving a minimum £250 increase.

“The pause ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented Government spending on the response to Covid-19.”

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales which represents rank and file officers, said the pay system was “not fit for purpose”.

He said: “Police officers have been on the front line of this pandemic for 18 months and will now see firefighters and local government workers in England given a 1.5% increase while they receive nothing. This is further evidence that not all public services are treated equally by this Government, and some are valued more than others.”

He said the national federation will be consulting members on how to push for changes to the system for setting police pay.

“The current pay system for policing is not fit for purpose. We are forced to enter into an inherently unfair process from the start, with the odds weighted firmly in favour of the Government where, it seems, a decision has already been made when they set the parameters for the pay review body.

“It is now essential that we review this process and look to find an alternative. A solution that has the best interests of police officer pay at heart. We will be seeking the views of our members and calling an urgent meeting with our 43 federation branches from across England and Wales to discuss our next steps.”

The Police Federation, that represents more than 120,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, said that officers had already suffered an 18% pay cut in real terms in the space of a decade.

John Apter comments
Police Federation chairman John Apter (Steve Parsons/PA)

Staff working for the National Crime Agency are also facing the pay freeze.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “This is a blow for police officers who have served the country so bravely throughout the pandemic.

“Not only have they been at risk of Covid, but in the past year attacks on officers have rocketed. In response, they should have a Government that has their back.

“One day ministers are clapping frontline workers and praising them in Parliament – the next pushing through an insulting real terms pay cut, utterly shameful hypocrisy yet again, especially from Priti Patel.”