High-ranking police officers withdraw from pay review system in row over freeze

·4-min read

High-ranking police officers are withdrawing from the independent system that sets their salaries after widespread outrage over a pay freeze.

The Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) will join the Police Federation in leaving the process following a bitter row over the Government decision to freeze pay for officers who earn more than £24,000.

In contrast, NHS staff will receive a 3% increase and firefighters and local government workers a 1.5% rise.

Currently, the independent Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) gathers information from various groups including those representing officers as well as the Home Office, before recommending what pay levels the Government should set.

The Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, withdrew from the system in July, with chairman John Apter calling it “inherently unfair”.

Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter has also expressed fury at the pay freeze
Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter has also expressed fury at the pay freeze (Steve Parsons/PA)

On Tuesday, PSA president Paul Griffiths is expected to announce that the body is also withdrawing from the process because “officers are not being heard”.

He is expected to tell delegates at the PSA annual conference: “No-one enters policing to get rich. It is a vocation and a career that provides challenge and demands sacrifice like no other – something clearly demonstrated amidst the pandemic.

“However, with very few employment rights, it is essential that police officers have fair and transparent processes in place to determine their pay, and that they have a clear voice within this.

“The Government direction on public service pay has overridden these processes, making decisions around pay in advance of the evidence it requests from stakeholders right across the service.

“Currently, we have no procedural justice when it comes to pay and police officers are not being heard.

“It is for this reason that I can announce today that the Police Superintendents’ Association is withdrawing from the PRRB process.”

The announcement of the pay freeze provoked fury, with the Police Federation passing a vote of no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel over pay, and chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt writing to her to stress that officers “deserve better”.

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Speaking at the conference on Tuesday, Britain’s most senior police officer, Dame Cressida Dick, said officers, who do not have industrial rights, need a pay review system in which they can have confidence.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told delegates: “For all the police officers who continue to put themselves in harm’s way, who have served the public loyally and steadfastly throughout the pandemic, who have been injured assaulted or abused.

“All the police officers who wake up each day or get ready each night to protect people, to save lives, to prevent crime, to tackle perpetrators, not knowing what the day will hold, and for their families, for all of you, I do believe police deserve a pay rise.

“And they deserve a fair system for calculating it. One in which people who cannot withdraw labour or work to rule can have confidence.”

Mr Griffiths would normally make his annual conference address to Ms Patel in person but this year she will instead provide a recorded speech.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will address police pay in a recorded video message to the Police Superintendents Association Annual Conference on Tuesday
Home Secretary Priti Patel will address police pay in a recorded video message to the Police Superintendents’ Association annual conference on Tuesday (Aaron Chown/PA)

In the video, she is expected to say: “The pandemic deepened the disparity between public and private sector wages – many private sector workers lost jobs, or saw their wages seriously reduced.

“This meant the Chancellor could not justify an across-the-board pay increase for public sector workers.

“He asked the advice of the pay review bodies, proposing to raise pay in the NHS but pause pay rises elsewhere in order to protect jobs.

“This pandemic is something we have never experienced before – a truly seismic event which has affected many sectors and employers across the entire economy.

“It has meant even tougher choices than usual. None of us wanted to be in this situation.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the pay review system must urgently be reviewed.

He added: “Now that the Police Superintendents’ Association has joined the Police Federation in withdrawing from the pay review body, the Home Secretary must – urgently – address how it can be reformed so police have confidence in a system that works for them.”

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