Police pay review calls are a ‘kick in the teeth’

Chief constable Alex Marshall
Chief constable Alex Marshall
Fratton Park

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CALLS for an overhaul of police pay and conditions that include cutting £60m a year in overtime have been branded a ‘kick in the teeth’ by Hampshire Police Federation.

Chairman John Apter hit out at recommendations published today in the independent Winsor report.

It also recommends the suspension of bonus payments for all chief officers and the abolition of other allowances including special priority payments.

Front line officers could see their wages increase but Hampshire Police Federation says some would face salary cuts of up to 20 per cent on top of the current pay freeze.

Mr Apter has said morale among officers is so low some are openly talking about challenging their right to strike.

He said: ‘It is unlawful for officers to take industrial action, but at this time officers are openly talking about challenging their right to strike. This is a very sad and dangerous road to go down but I can understand officers feeling this way.

‘It’s bobby bashing – it’s like it’s become an olympic sport.’

The first part of former rail regulator Tom Winsor’s review comes as Hampshire Constabulary faces budget cuts of up to £50m in by 2015 due to the government’s spending squeeze.

As reported in The News, 300 police officer and 700 staff jobs are to be axed.

Mr Apter added: ‘The recommendations are another kick in the teeth for officers who are already subject to a two-year pay freeze.

’If these recommendations go through, officers will see a 15 to 20 per cent reduction in value of their pay.

‘Policing is not an ordinary job, it is a vocation which places great restrictions on those officers who dedicate their working lives to serving the public.

‘Police officers trust governments to do the right thing. If these recommendations are forced through that trust will be lost forever.’

The report comes after think-tank Policy Exchange revealed police officers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight received an average £2,159 each in overtime in 2009/10 – its lowest average in nine years, bucking the national trend.

The force paid a total of £8,091,000 in overtime to officers last year.

Alex Marshall, chief constable of Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘I remain committed to preserving the number of front line officers who provide visible local policing. This includes officers who respond to emergency calls day and night and neighbourhood officers and police community support officers who will remain in your community on a long-term basis to understand your issues and work to resolve them.’

‘Much has been said about regulations around overtime payments. We have to be careful to use overtime wisely, but I do believe it has a place in managing the unpredictable demands of modern policing.

‘I appreciate the dedication and professionalism displayed by all of my officers and staff and want to reassure the public that this will not change despite the current budget cuts.