Police Federation

In this general election, we need to talk about police pay not just numbers

National Secretary Calum Macleod emphasises the dire need for a truly independent mechanism to decide police officers' pay to stop further pay degradation.

17 June 2024


Once again, policing is being used as a political football in the current general election campaign. Labour is promising a focus on neighbourhood policing with the recruitment of thousands of new police officers, PCSOs, and special constables. The Conservatives are pledging another 8,000 officers on top of the 20,000 they are recruiting to make up for the similar number lost during austerity.

This debate, however, misses the real point. Poor pay and morale means police officers aren’t staying in the force and we are losing valuable experience from the service. That we are in a recruitment and retention crisis is no surprise. Politicians are quick to praise the police for the difficult jobs we do but then insult us with long-term, systematic, degradation of our terms, conditions and pay.

The Federation’s frustrations surrounding the existing mechanism in determining police pay has been well documented. In 2021, following numerous years of derogatory pay awards, we decided to exit the government’s-imposed pay process (Police Remuneration Review Board). The existing process is neither fair nor transparent. The Home Secretary sets the remit, and even after the review body considers the evidence and comes to a recommendation, it is Ministers alone who accept or reject the advice. Similarly, the PRRB itself deserves criticism for failing to make recommendations that safeguard police pay and allowing this degradation to take hold. When governments routinely reject its advice, why is there no accountability of the review board or any mechanism for the process to be challenged?

Previous reviews of policing, such as that by Edmund Davies, found that police officers should have a fair and transparent mechanism to determine pay, in recognition of your inability to withhold labour and due to your status within society, with binding arbitration on all parties where agreement could not be reached. Without such a mechanism, the review said, police officers would fall behind in the pay league.

This falling behind, a severe degradation of police pay, is exactly what has happened. Police officers pay has fallen by over 20 per cent in real terms since 2010. This cannot be right, and continually fails to recognise the role that you perform in society and the risks you take.

The position that we do not make submissions to the pay review body has a knock-on effect that we are officially unable to present our position on pay and allowances within a pay framework. On your behalf we have continued to engage and highlight the dire situation in meetings with MPs and government Ministers. Our discussions with the NPCC, HMIC and other staff associations also continue to present our evidenced position on pay and the ultimate need to redress this balance.

For the second year in a row, we commissioned the Social Market Foundation, a leading think tank, to provide their independent assessment on pay. This evidence was used to support the request by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) for an above inflation pay rise of 6 per cent from September 2024. We trust that any government formed after July the 4th will recognise that talk about numbers is irrelevant unless the issue of historic pay degradation is not also urgently addressed.

Finally, the Federation will also continue to call for a return to collective bargaining and a return to binding arbitration. You are currently being asked a question surrounding this and we ask that as many of you as possible respond, so we have a clear and unambiguous message for our direction of travel in respect of pay and conditions on your behalf.

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