OPINION - The Standard View: The Metropolitan Police wants a pay rise – but every day more controversies emerge

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Public sympathy for striking workers is heavily influenced by sector. Nurses and ambulance workers command the most support, whereas driving examiners and railway workers enjoy some of the least. So where does this leave the Metropolitan Police?

Sir Mark Rowley has suggested that officers should be given a near 10 per cent pay rise. The Met Commissioner pointed out that real pay for frontline officers had fallen — by 17 per cent in the past decade, according to his figures — and that any increase must come from additional government spending.

He also warned that falling real-terms pay is making it more difficult to meet ministers’ targets for police numbers, and that his force would be 1,000 short by April.

The Met, like hospitals and schools, needs to offer an attractive salary among other benefits to recruit and retain staff. And officers, like any workers, should be able to afford to live in the city in which they work. Of course, there are complicating factors at play. Barely a day goes by when Scotland Yard isn’t dragged into another controversy.

Today, it is under further scrutiny as eight officers face disciplinary hearings, having been accused of being part of a WhatsApp group that shared sexist, racist and homophobic posts.

The Government has consistently sought to hold a tough line on public sector pay, pointing to tight public finances and the need to bring inflation down. Today’s bumper tax figures, boosted by self-assessment tax receipts, does give Jeremy Hunt some unexpected room for manoeuvre ahead of the Budget.

But similar pressures will endure — public sector unions will demand better pay deals, while Conservative MPs will call for tax cuts. From the Met to the backbenches, even rare positive economic data doesn’t necessarily make the Chancellor’s job any easier.

Biden makes his point

Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv on Monday was historic. Presidents have visited war zones before, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but rarely have they done so by train and to a country without a US military presence.

This visit represented more than the transfer of arms or cash — it was about demonstrating American resolve. As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches, Western unity is clear for all to see. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, cuts an isolated figure, his speech this morning littered with the usual falsehoods about Nato, European history and his so-called “special operation”. The contrast could not be clearer.

London sets the bar

The stars came together last night for Burberry’s blockbuster London Fashion Week show. It was in many ways the culmination of a triumphant few days for the capital and its sparkling creative industries. A high bar has been set for Milan and Paris later this month.