The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has urged for a significant pay increase of 17% for police officers. The call follows a recent study by the non-partisan think tank Social Market Foundation (SMF), which revealed a staggering decline in police pay since 2000.
According to the independent research, real terms police pay has fallen almost 20% behind inflation between 2000 and 2022. This makes the police an outlier among protective services workers, public sector workers, and all workers.
While these groups have seen their pay rise in real terms over this period by 1%, 14%, and 5%, respectively, police pay has been on a constant decline.
The SMF report highlights that police constable starting salaries have lagged behind earnings as a whole across the economy by a considerable amount. The report also suggests that the restrictions on police officers’ right to strike may be linked to the decline in police pay.
This puts them at a distinct disadvantage compared to all other workers, including other emergency service workers.
If these real-term trends continue over the next five years, police pay is expected to drop a further 4% in real terms by 2027. This is in stark contrast to private and public sector worker pay, which is set to rise over the same period.
The report references the “P-factor” as an element of police pay that reflects the unique obligations and responsibilities police officers experience relative to other comparable roles.
This includes their unique risk of exposure to physical and psychological harm, alongside the restrictions that are placed upon their private lives.
The P-factor payment, which should be offered in addition to the study’s findings, was not included in the report. The absence of the P-factor payment suggests that the actual figure of degradation of police pay is significantly higher.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Federation has said that if the pay rise of 17% is not forthcoming, then police officers must be asked if they would like to have the right to strike.
The spokesperson stated, “Police officers deserve a 17% pay rise after years of attacks on our pay and conditions. If this is not awarded, then our colleagues must be asked if they would like the right to strike.”
Police officers in England and Wales are not legally allowed to strike, following a deal made in 1919. The agreement was formed on the basis that police officers would be “looked after” by the Government and therefore, they would not be allowed to take industrial action.
However, this has been a topic of debate for some time. The Police Federation has been calling for the right to strike to be granted to police officers, arguing that it would give them the same rights as other workers.
The Government, on the other hand, has been hesitant to grant this right, citing concerns about public safety and the impact on law and order.
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