9 March 2023
Police Officers Can't Afford To Stay In The Job
Experienced police officers are leaving the service because they simply cannot afford to stay in the job, Leicestershire Police Federation has said.
Chair Adam Commons 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 Adam said officers in Leicestershire were struggling to heat their homes or put food on the table – and were even having to use food banks to feed their families.
He added: “The research document that PFEW commissioned is vitally important because the SMF are independent. We use our pay and morale survey each year to base our submissions on for the PRRB, but with this report we have irrefutable independent evidence of how far behind police officer pay has fallen.
“The Government has shown, either in coalition or not, that it has complete contempt for police officers and the work that they do. Let's not forget they commissioned the Winsor report, which created the PRRB in the first place because it suited their agenda.
“The PRRB has consistently failed to represent police officers for over a decade, they are not independent as the Government regularly sets them a remit. Now they have the chance and the independent evidence to right the wrongs of over 10 years.
“The research shows police officer pay has declined by 17% in real terms since 2000 and, coupled with the cost-of-living crisis, my colleagues are struggling to heat their homes or put food on the table. This is real and it is happening here in Leicestershire right now. Officers are having to use food banks to survive.”
Adam said he had organised a round-table meeting with local politicians to discuss the issue of police officer pay.
He explained: “At the end of this month, I'm meeting in person with all of the MPs for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and this is the top item on the agenda.
“That in itself is unprecedented. For the first time, we will all be in a room together where I can lay bare the very real risks we are facing.
“We have a retention crisis. Experienced police officers are walking out of the door because they cannot afford to stay in the job.”
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.