Blog: 'Our issue is with government not the pay review body'

12 February 2019

John Apter

John Apter, PFEW National Chair

Following our written submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) for 2019/20, National Chair John Apter explains why we are taking our fight over police pay to the Government via a judicial review. 

As many of you are aware, following last year’s betrayal by the Government to honour the PRRB recommendation in full, we are taking a judicial review of that decision. However, we already find ourselves submitting this year’s recommendation to the PRRB. Some people ask me why we bothered with the submission. Well, we do so because our fight is not with the PRRB; it is with the Government.

The Government must respect their own rules

It is not the PRRB who try to cheat you out of what’s rightfully yours. In fact, they have complimented the detail and quality of the evidence we put forward on your behalf. And last year they used that evidence to recommend an increase of 2%, in addition to consolidating 1% from the year before, making an overall increase of 3%. It was the Government who ripped up the rule book and failed to give you the PRRB recommendation in full. So my anger is with the Government, not the PRRB.

It is the Government who imposed the public sector pay cap in the first instance, meaning police salaries have been squeezed with years of below inflation increases. They have been reckless and irresponsible, leaving more than a third of officers struggling to make ends meet.

This year, the National Police Chiefs’ Council are putting forward proposals for a three-year pay settlement. We are doing the same and are asking for 5% pay rise for officers for each and every year over the next three years. This goes some way towards playing catch-up as constables and sergeants are already up to 19% behind where they should be. I’m sure we’ll hear the same old rhetoric from the Government about affordability, and concern from chief officers about what they can afford to pay from police budgets. But we have used the very formula and mechanisms for determining pay uplifts put forward by the NPCC to determine what we have asked for. So by their very admission, and indeed their submission to the PRRB, we are only asking for what they themselves feel is right.

The NPCC must stand up for the police service

In past years, the NPCC has been complicit in playing the Government’s tune. This year I expect to see them stick up for policing; in fact, I insist they do. I expect to see them fight hard to ensure police officers are appropriately rewarded for the difficult, demanding and dangerous job they do.

The NPCC also needs to consult properly on the pay and reward changes they are proposing, rather than railroading them through, paying lip service to any views that conflict with their own. An example being that of the degree apprenticeship scheme. The NPCC were asked specifically by the PRRB to provide a proposal for degree apprenticeship progression pay. Instead, they make an arbitrary decision that progression will be determined locally by chief officers.

That is an absolute disgrace. Not only does it break away from a nationally agreed pay structure, but it opens the door to a two tier pay structure. We have rightly asked that the PRRB reject completely this proposal by the NPCC.

On-call rates must be fair

It matters not what your role or rank is, being on-call places restrictions on your home and private life. For police officers to receive only half of what police staff receive is unfair and urgently needs correcting. That is why we have made clear in our submission this year that, in the absence of a full review of allowances, all officers should be paid the same on-call rate as staff members: £29.17 a day.

Well, the submission is in and we now wait to hear from the PRRB. But the work doesn’t stop there. We now go through all the other submissions with a fine tooth comb. We analyse and critique ahead of the oral session we have with the PRRB later this month. We lobby government, politicians, policing decision-makers and build up support for the fair deal we have asked for. And we await the judicial review hearing regarding the process by which the Government failed to honour in full last year’s pay review recommendation.

The Home Secretary, the Police Minister, Police and Crime Commissioners and chief officers are full of complimentary words about the difficult and demanding job you do. They say you should be fairly rewarded, but cite affordability as a barrier.

Well, you know it and I know it - words are cheap; actions are everything.

Read more about the PRRB process and our submission for 2019/20.