Police Federation threatens government with legal action over ‘derisory’ pay rise for officers

Police Federation accuses government of 'cheating' officers by ignoring independent body's recommendations 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 04 October 2018 16:08 BST
Sajid Javid has sought to improve on his predecessors' relationship with police
Sajid Javid has sought to improve on his predecessors' relationship with police (Reuters)

The association that represents 120,000 police officers is threatening legal action over the government’s “derisory” 2 per cent pay rise.

The Police Federation accused politicians of “cheating police officers” out of the increase they deserve while battling a rise in violent crime and terrorism amid budget cuts.

The Conservatives created the independent Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) in 2014 but has ignored its recommendations for two years in a row.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the body’s call for a 3 per cent pay rise was evidence-based but the government gave a “derisory” 2 per cent increase instead.

“In response to this betrayal and based on legal advice, the Police Federation has instructed solicitors to start judicial review proceedings against the home secretary on the basis that he has stated that the pay decision was a government decision and not his decision alone,” he added.

“Police officers must be treated fairly and have confidence that any independent pay recommendations will be accepted in full by the home secretary.

“I know the deep sense of anger felt by many of our members about the way they have been treated. This is why we have taken this action and make no apology for doing so. Doing nothing was simply not an option and it is right and proper that we challenge this unfairness legally.”

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Last month, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick described the decision not to follow the recommendation as a “punch on the nose”, warning that it had affected morale and recruitment.

Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow policing minister, said: “The home secretary's below inflation pay offer was an insult to police officers nationwide and the failure to respect the independent pay body made a mockery of the process.”

Sajid Javid has been challenged on the issue at a series of police conferences this year, winning cautious support for vowing to fight for more money in a government-wide spending review.

Last month he told the Police Superintendents’ Association that Theresa May had not blocked the pay rise and that ministers had taken a “collective” decision.

Mr Javid said he took the PRRB’s recommendations seriously but added: “There are recommendations across the board for millions of public sector workers, we have to as a government take them all into account - you're trying to get that balance between affordability, what is recommended and fairness to taxpayers.”

The government claimed 2 per cent was the “maximum affordable award” according to police employers.

A leaked letter sent to Downing Street said the home secretary had been “strongly in favour” of following the recommendation, and set out his view that blocking the 3 per cent rise was the “wrong decision”.

Mr Javid, whose brother is a senior officer in West Midlands Police, has been working to improve officers’ relationship with the government after the open hostility towards his predecessors Theresa May and Amber Rudd.

Police consider him “on probation” and many senior officers say they are withholding judgment on his promises until the government-wide spending review.

Mr Javid has also backed a boost in the use of stop and search to help tackle the deadly spate of serious violence on Britain's streets.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are grateful to all police officers for the incredible job they do – and will continue to ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.

“The police pay award for 2018/19 represents the highest consolidated pay award since 2010. And the number of people joining police forces is at a 10 year high which demonstrates policing is still a desirable and sought-after career.

“We are unable to comment, however, on potential future legal proceedings.”

It comes after a survey showed that a record number of police officers were taking second jobs to supplement their income, while Mr Apter warned that police were “failing the public” as budget cuts forced them to prioritise what crimes they respond to.

Separate research showed that victims’ confidence in the justice system was plummeting with almost half of all criminal investigations in England and Wales are closed with no suspects identified, and the proportion ending falling to just 9 per cent.

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