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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Police Pay: The Government Doesn't Care Because It Doesn't Have To

9 March 2023

The Police Federation of England and Wales has called for a minimum 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.

Andy Berry, Chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “We have seen over the past weeks and months the anger across the public sector regarding their pay and conditions and the only time the public and Government seem to worry is when the workers have to, out of desperation, resort to strikes.

“But no one has to worry about police strikes because we can’t.

“The Home Secretary has a bucket full of problems at the moment but unlike a number of her ministerial colleagues, striking police isn’t one. Is it any wonder then that police pay has lagged behind so much. The Government doesn’t care, because it doesn’t have to.

“If police pay continues to drop in real terms, as it has over the past decade or so, then recruitment of quality people will become harder. We are already seeing that across the country. We will also see experienced cops leave to work in other industries.

“I have spoken to those who leave to become train drivers and driving instructors for instance. What is more worrying is that with the state of police pay together with the cost of living crisis, we are having to support police officers with food vouchers. This is shameful.

“The public should worry and the Home Secretary should hang her head in shame. Not only do I have cops in my force who are so desperate that they need food vouchers, we have many many more who are just struggling. Only yesterday I was told of a detective who was coming to work with holes in their shoes because they had to prioritise food and bills.

“It cannot be right that those who the public ask to protect them, that the public ask to run towards danger and to do the harrowing and awful jobs that they expect, are struggling to feed their families or to clothe themselves.”

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.