The Police Federation of England & Wales (PFEW), the body which represents 130,000 ‘rank and file’ police officers, has said that it no longer has confidence in Priti Patel, the current Home Secretary.
Following an extraordinary National Council meeting today, 22nd July, the organisation has also made a decision to withdraw its support and engagement from the Police Remuneration Review Body, labelling the current police officer pay mechanism as ‘not fit for purpose’.
The move follows Wednesday’s pay announcement and Home Secretary Priti Patel’s claim that the Government ‘recognises the bravery, commitment and professionalism’ of police officers while offering ‘no improved financial package to PFEW members to illustrate that is the case’.
During the National Council meeting, those present overwhelmingly supported a vote of no confidence in the Home Secretary and the PRRB process for police officer pay.
A spokesperson for the PFEW said that there is ‘enormous anger within policing’, with officers across England and Wales saying the Government ‘takes them for granted and treats them with contempt’.
The PFEW cited that the ‘warm words’ heard from the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister at the PFEW’s annual conference just a few months ago had ‘not been backed up with action’.
The spokesperson added: ‘this week’s pay announcement essentially amounts to a pay cut. It is an insult to the thousands of brave men and women who do so much for their communities’.
PFEW National Chair John Apter said:
“The PRRB is not truly independent, the body which is the only mechanism we have to consider any pay award for police officers, has its hands constantly tied by the Government who continually interfere.
“The PRRB itself recognises its lack of independence.
“We can no longer accept this and have no confidence in this system which is why we are walking away.
“We often hear the Home Secretary praise police officers but our members are so angry with this Government.
“They have been on the frontline of this pandemic for 18 months and will now see other public services given pay increases while they receive nothing.
“At the beginning of this pandemic they endured PPE shortages and were not even prioritised for the vaccination. They continue to be politicised and this pay announcement is the final straw.
“As the organisation that represents more than 130,000 police officers I can say quite categorically – we have no confidence in the current Home Secretary.
“I cannot look my colleagues in the eye and do nothing.”
As well as implementing and enforcing the government’s, at worst, erroneous, and, at best, confusing Covid-19 rules during various lockdowns, police officers have been facing more frequent acts of serious violence from a disgruntled and often bewildered public.
The severity of assaults on police officers, and emergency workers in general, have been increasing over the last 12 months, as catalogued in the ‘assaulted on duty‘ section of our website.
There has been frequent ‘chatter’ through unofficial police channels that police officers are leaving the job in their droves, making it less likely that the government is going to hit its police officer recruitment target.
As well as an ‘anti-police’ narrative which many police officers feel is being pushed by the mainstream media, there is a feeling amongst frontline police officers that the IOPC is almost tripping over itself to make examples of police officers to pander to the anti-police sentiment which the mainstream media have whipped up over the last 14 months.
This, coupled with cancelled rest days, an increase in attacks on police officers combined with, what is perceived as, an out of control knife-crime epidemic, has meant that morale in the police is, generally speaking, at an all-time low.
Police officers are having to deal with four times their usual workload whilst at the same time having little time off from work, with many resorting to having to take time off sick from the job.
The PFEW spokesperson added: ‘With inflation set to increase to almost four per cent later this year, this is yet another real-terms pay cut for police officers in England and Wales and a huge slap in the face for our members who have been attacked and vilified while holding the frontline during this pandemic.
‘PFEW has tried its level best to be entirely co-operative in all dealings with Government. But this Government and this Home Secretary, for all their talk of how much they value what we do, have made this impossible. They cannot be trusted or taken at face value in the way we would expect.
‘As the undisputed voice of policing we say this to the Home Secretary: you cannot pat our members on the back for their heroic efforts with one hand, while effectively taking their pay with the other. Warm words are no longer enough’.
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