Cumbria Police Federation

Pay Erosion Has Pushed Officers Close To Breaking Point

9 March 2023

Police officers have a breaking point, and it is very close, Cumbria Police Federation has said.

Chair Paul Williams was speaking as the Police Federation of England and Wales announced it would be seeking a 17% pay rise for police officers this year.

The PFEW came to the figure after a report by independent think tank Social Market Foundation showed that police officer pay had declined by 17% in real terms since 2000.

And Paul said there could be serious consequences for policing and public safety if more officers leave because they simply cannot afford to stay in the job.

He added: “This is not an unreasonable request and will barely break even. We are sick and tired of not being listened to and being dismissed with derogatory comments.

“The country is in crisis and so is policing.

“While pay has been increasing for most, ours has been decreasing. That is unacceptable and insulting to our members who go out daily and receive verbal and physical abuse.

“There is always the risk and uncertainty for officers and their families about whether they will return home safe and there is a complete lack of respect from the Government who we work very hard to keep safe, as well as the public.

“Officers are looking to leave. There is clear evidence of this and the reasons are clear. There are far more attractive packages of employment out there that do not carry anywhere near the levels of stress and threat.

“If realistic compensation for our work is not given then I fear for serious consequences and the future of policing which will undoubtedly affect public safety.

“We are human beings not robots. We are officers not ‘plod’. We are a disciplined service that carry out enforcement and deal with very dangerous individuals all the time and do not appreciate being given so called ‘marching orders’ when trying to police a pandemic never before seen with revolving legislation.

“We have families and lives like everyone else and also very importantly we have a breaking point and it is very close.”

The SMF research also found that police pay fared badly when compared to other protective services and public sector workers, whose pay rose by 1% and 14% respectively over the same period.

The report also claimed that the decline in police pay is likely to be linked the restrictions on their right to strike.

And it added that if the current police pay trend continued, officer remuneration would drop by a further 4% in real terms by 2027.

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said: “The Government can no longer sit by and ignore our members’ basic needs and must recognise the impact of this independent research. In the context of ongoing inflation, indications of a police retention crisis, and reports of officers being forced to turn to food banks, the issue of police pay must be addressed now after more than a decade of being ignored.

“Police officers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that begins with better pay. Pay that not only reflects the cost-of-living crisis that many of us face but puts right the 17% decline since 2000 and compensates officers for the dangers they’re exposed to as part of the job. They must be compensated fairly for doing a job that is so important and unique that they do not have access to industrial rights.”

The report also found that a key factor in discussions over police pay should be what it called the “P-factor”: 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.