With the government committed to increasing police numbers by 20,000 the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has warned it’s more important than ever that police officers are paid a fair wage for the unique job they do.
Today (7 February) PFEW, in conjunction with the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA), has published its submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) - the independent team which recommends to the government what pay increase police officers should receive.
This year PFEW and PSA have recommended that police officers receive a pay uplift of 5% across all ranks. Last year officers were awarded 2.5%.
Over the past 10 years, when using the Consumer Price Index (including housing) method of calculating inflation, police officer pay has fallen in real terms by 8.7% - and when the Retail Price Index is used that figure becomes 18%.
And it’s clear from PFEW’s Pay and Morale research that more and more officers are seriously concerned about their finances with the latest survey revealing only 36% of respondents said they had enough money to cover their monthly essentials, and around one in eight admitting they have had to seek financial support to cover day to day expenses within the last year.
With officers clearly struggling PFEW argues that if the government wants to see a return to staffing levels last seen in the early 2010s then pay should also be returned to that level.
The 143-page report compiled by PFEW’s Research and Policy Support Department uses detailed and comprehensive analysis and evidence to support the staff associations’ recommendations.
The 5% uplift is one of 20 recommendations submitted, which also include:
- The removal of the lowest two pay points for Constables, to facilitate recruitment;
- The shortening of the Constables’ and Sergeants’ pay scales;
- The introduction of new top pay scale points for all ranks, to incentivise retention;
- An increase in location and dog-handler’s allowance;
- And, the introduction of a minimum starting salary £24,177. (A full list of the recommendations is below.)
PFEW National Chair John Apter said: “For too many years police officers have been treated with contempt by government with their pay having effectively been cut by 18% in real terms over the past decade.
"And while we are starting to see some positive moves from the new government, ministers now need to show they are serious about their commitment to policing, by paying police officers fairly for the uniquely challenging job they do.
"Some new recruits will be taking home just 15p an hour more than the basic living wage. This sticks in the throat when you hear government ministers say how much they support our police officers. Support needs to be more than kind words.
"Over the past year we have seen police officers undertaking extreme acts of bravery such as confronting terrorist to protect the public; and tragically we have also lost colleagues in the line of duty. All of which highlight the risks police officers face every day. It truly is a job like no other.”
Mr Apter continued: “The recent police funding settlement has provided a much-needed financial boost to the service.
"I accept there will always be competing demands for this money, but the government and the chiefs must recognise that people are policing’s most valuable asset; and in order to help attract and retain the officers needed to achieve the 20,000-increase, pay is a critical factor,” said Mr Apter.
Other parties who are expected to make submissions to the PRRB include the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Home Office and the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association.
A series of oral evidence sessions will now take place with the PRRB then expected to make its final recommendation in July, with whatever pay award is agreed coming into effect on 1 September 2020.
PFEW and PSA recommendations in full:
Recommendation 1: In considering pay, prioritise how the 20,000 uplift can be achieved
Recommendation 2: Our second recommendation must be that the pay reform design should be urgently reviewed within the current operating context. We believe that certain features – such as linking pay to assessments of performance – will need to be carefully assessed for practicality.
Recommendation 3: With regard to the benchmarking element of the pay reform, our recommendation is that we continue to work closely together to establish common ground as to the underpinning benchmark methodology, and inclusion and exclusion criteria for this.
Recommendation 4: It is recommended that over the coming year a systematic approach to the valuation of the P factor* is undertaken, perhaps following the steps suggested by the staff associations.
Recommendation 5: Until such time as a systematic evaluation is undertaken, the P factor should be assumed to be 14.5%, in keeping with the military X factor.
Recommendation 6: It is recommended that the NPCC reconsider the method currently being used to introduce Variable pay.
Recommendation 7: For the NPCC to seek independent scrutiny of its pay reform plans.
Recommendation 8: We therefore recommend that the PRRB accept the NPCC’s recommendation that the Targeted Variable Payment is uplifted to £5,000: but we seek for Recommendation 7 to also be accepted.
Recommendation 9: It is recommended that the number of points on the Constable pay scale be reduced from the current 9 points (-1, £18,450 through to 7, £40,128). to 5 or 6 points and enable officers to reach the top faster.
Recommendation 10: It is recommended that officers are deemed to be competent unless on Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure, and that progress up the pay scale is only restricted to those not deemed to be competent.
Recommendation 11: We agree the NPCC position of removal of the lowest pay point for Sergeants, so long as all those on that pay point are immediately moved up to the next pay point. We believe this may help with the need to encourage an extra 1,000 new Sergeants over and above the normal targets.
Recommendation 12: New top of the scale points should be set for all ranks, to incentivise retention.
Recommendation 13: We recommend that a benefits realisation model for the pay reform is produced, outlining the intended benefits, the rationale as to why the NPCC believe that the actions taken will result in these benefits being achieved, and consideration of unintended consequences.
Recommendation 14: NPCC’s Equality Impact Assessment to be assessed by independent, qualified professional.
Recommendation 15: Review of the regulations and determinations drafting process.
Recommendation 16: Remove pay points -1 and 0: set minimum starting salary £24,177.
Recommendation 17: We recommend an uplift that will start to narrow the gap between the real terms earning of 2010, and today. Taking into account affordability, we seek an across the board uplift of 5%.
Recommendation 18: A systematic review of the location allowances.
Recommendation 19: We feel that as a minimum, the London Weighting should be uplifted in line with the pay award, and both London and SE Allowances should be increased to be 150% of their current values.
Recommendation 20: Dog Handler’s Allowance should be uprated in line with the overall uplift.
* The ‘P Factor’ recognises the effects and limitations people who undertake the role of a police officer experience and covers elements such as risk to their physical and psychological health, legal constraints and the socio-economic impact. It is similar to the military’s ‘X Factor’.