20 May 2022
The Home Secretary was put on the spot over police pay at the Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual conference.
In a question-and-answer session during the Manchester conference this week, Priti Patel heard powerful stories of how officers are struggling to make ends meet.
Rich Cooke, Chair of West Midlands Police Federation, angrily told the Home Secretary: “Our members have had our pay slashed. We’ve had our pensions ripped up. It’s about time you and your colleagues put your money where your mouth is and did something about the terrible state our colleagues are finding themselves in.”
North Wales Police officer Vicky Knight, who works in child protection, told her: “I love my job but if I can’t pay my mortgage and can’t pay the fuel, my accountant advised me to leave the police, work 22 hours a week and claim benefits, and I will be better off. How can that be right?”
To applause, she added: “I get paid less than my local manager at Lidl…We are desperately struggling to do the job that we love, and make ends meet at home. We need you to be on our team.”
The Home Secretary thanked the officer, and said: “It illustrates so strongly and powerfully why we need to find solutions to pay issues and give you the support you rightfully deserve.
“It’s why I am here today. We have to move this forwards. You have that commitment from me. You absolutely do. Steve [Hartshorn] and I have our work to do. None of this will happen overnight, but you have it from me that we will drive this forward and that is a commitment I give to you.”
Earlier, PFEW Chair Steve Hartshorn called for better pay for officers in his inaugural address to conference.
He said: “We need fair pay and terms and conditions for all officers. Over the last decade, we have seen a real term pay cut of around 20%. Other costs haven’t stood still – gas, electric and fuel costs all continue to rise, and National Insurance contributions increased.
“The very people who put their lives on the line during the pandemic, alongside other key workers, were told they deserve nothing extra to help with living costs.
“They are told they are brave; they are told they do a unique job. They were thanked for putting themselves and their families in danger as Covid gripped the country, and yet that acknowledgement amounted to nothing.”
Steve also announced that the Federation will be fighting for more annual leave for officers.
He said: “It currently takes 20 years of service to reach the entitlement of 30 days, with officers starting on 22 days. We propose starting officers on 25 days and reaching the entitlement of 30 days after five years.”