Hampshire Police Federation boss's fury as bitterly-opposed police pay freeze is confirmed

FURIOUS chiefs representing Hampshire’s rank-and-file police officers have blasted the government for pushing through a bitterly-opposed pay freeze.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:05 pm
Police presence at Guildhall Square, Portsmouth during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year. Picture: Habibur Rahman

In a written ministerial statement to the Commons last night, Home Secretary Priti Patel said 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.

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‘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.’

But the move has enraged senior leaders at bodies representing the hundreds of officers helping to keep Hampshire’s streets safe.

Sergeant Zoe Wakefield, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said: ‘Hampshire Police officers are disgusted and angry at the decision of this government to award them nothing through the Police Remuneration Review Body.

‘Let’s be honest, the PRRB is not impartial and this is a government decision. It clearly shows what the government thinks of police officers.

‘The NHS wholeheartedly deserve a three per cent pay rise. Firefighters deserve a 1.5 per cent pay rise. Do police officers really deserve nothing? Actually it is less than nothing in real terms.

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‘My colleagues are feeling undervalued after everything they have done during the pandemic. They have been stabbed, bitten, kicked, punched, threatened, abused, coughed and spat at during the pandemic.

‘They have been out there every day and night protecting the public, dealing with the Covid rule-breakers all the time not only putting themselves at risk but also risking taking the virus home to their loved ones.

‘Where would the country be now if the police had not broken up all those house parties, policed the endless protests, particularly in London and Bristol, worked with the NHS in ICU, driven ambulances… and so much more.

‘It is not over for policing. Officers are working overtime so often that they are exhausted. They are covering for colleagues who are sick or self-isolating and this is all in addition to the constant shift changes because we just don’t have enough officers to meet demand.’

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’.

The former Hampshire federation chief 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 per cent 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.’

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