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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

The Police Federation of England & Wales no longer has confidence in the current Home Secretary

22 July 2021

The Police Federation of England & Wales no longer has confidence in the current Home Secretary.

Following an extraordinary National Council meeting today, the organisation has also made a decision to withdraw its support and engagement from the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB), labelling the current police officer pay mechanism ‘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 our 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.

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 warm words officers heard from the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister at PFEW’s recent annual conference have not been backed up with action. Far from it. 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.

Andy Berry, Chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “I am pleased that as a Federation National Council comprising of representatives from the 43 forces in England and Wales that we have been able to speak with a single voice to say to the Home Secretary that we do not have any confidence in her ability to have the overall command of the Police Service in England and Wales. She let us down during the COVID crisis by not intervening to ensure that officers were prioritised for vaccination and she has again let us down by interfering with the so called independent Pay and Remuneration Review Body (PRRB).

“The PRRB was established following the review into policing which was led by Sir Tom Winsor and from the outset it was clear that it was not truly independent since the employer, the Home Secretary, set the terms of what can be reviewed each year and ultimately can decide to ignore the recommendations if they don’t like them. As a Chair I have always believed that you had to be in it to win it but with the cynical and blatant interference by the Home Secretary this year it has become clear that we cannot continue to give credibility to this charade.

“I believe that all other interested parties who engage with the PRRB should now withdraw from the process. Indeed, the report of the PRRB itself de-cries the fact that it’s independence has been fettered and so I firmly believe that the Chair and board members of the PRRB should now resign to prevent their good names being tarnished by further association with this discredited system.

“Police officers knowingly give up certain employment rights to become servants of the Crown but in doing that we expect to be treated fairly and I honestly believe that the public will want us to be treated fairly. A big part of this fairness is to have a pay review body that is fair and wholly independent of the Government. We are not asking for guaranteed pay rises, we are not asking for a review body that will always agree with us but we can no longer be part of a system which is rigged against us.”

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.”

For too long PFEW has also been forced to enter into an unfair pay process with the odds weighted firmly in the favour of the Government.

The PRRB’s lack of independence is something the body recognises itself and even highlights in its report.

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.