24 February 2023
Federation Chair: It scares the hell out of me, how many officers could go because of low pay
Police officers are leaving the service over low pay, and the Chair of Leicestershire Police Federation has said: “It scares the hell out of me, how many people could go”.
The Government is reportedly planning a below-inflation 3.5% pay rise for police officers and other public sector workers. Meanwhile, chief police officers making submissions to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) warned the Government that policing would be under threat if it continued to ignore calls for a fair pay increase.
Police officers’ pay has fallen by almost 17% in real terms since 2010, a third of officers have fewer than five years’ experience, and a rising number are leaving for the private sector.
Adam Commons, Chair of Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “A pay deal of 3.5% is not enough. We are an easy target every year, because we don’t have the same rights as other public-sector workers; we can’t strike. As we’ve seen in the past, the Home Office has dictated to the PRRB what to give, and clearly we’re going down this route again.
“Chief officers, including Sir Mark Rowley from the Met, know that the pay rise needs to be higher, because they are seeing the day-to-day attrition of police officers. A third of our service are now in their first two to four years, which is dangerous. Chief officers need to be more vocal about it, along with the Federation, to make people understand the precipice that we’re on. This is the result of 12 to 15 years of poor pay that is affecting the recruitment and retention of police officers.”
He continued: “I think we’re at a really dangerous point because we’re waiting for the official sign-off from the Government around the pension remedy, so we don’t know how many people could retire from the police service in the next year or so. A lot of them could go with a month’s notice.
“A large number of new officers are leaving the job too, even if they get past two years’ service, because the pay and the conditions are not good enough. With all that factored in, if we don’t get a good pay award this year, we could drop off the cliff edge come autumn, with a huge number of people walking away to go to the private sector. If we do, we have a massive, massive problem. It scares the hell out of me, how many people could go."
Adam said that Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable wants officers to be properly paid, but that the Government needed to fund pay rises, as police force budgets were already stretched.
The public should be worried about their police service, Adam added. He said: “The public needs to put pressure on their local politicians to make sure that the police are properly funded, with their budgets and with the pay settlement. We’re not being greedy, we’re just at a point where it’s not paying enough for officers to put their lives on the line every day. If this isn’t an attractive job anymore, we can’t have the right people to look after the public, and that’s what we want to do.”
He continued: “I assure our members that I am continuing to fight for this. It keeps me awake at night. I am doing everything I can to convince the people in the background, who make these decisions, to properly reward officers so that they get the right pay for one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
“To the politicians, I’d say: you have got to start listening. You are at a really dangerous point in policing where, if you don’t get this right in the next 12-18 months, you are going to have an attrition rate so high from the police, we might not be able to do our job.”