17 May 2022
The Police Federation of England and Wales National Chair Steve Hartshorn has called on the Government to stop neglecting police officers and to resume constructive dialogue to address hardships of pay and working conditions faced by the organisation’s members.
Delivering his speech with Home Secretary Priti Patel present at this year’s PFEW Annual Conference, Mr Hartshorn, who took over as National Chair last month, asked: “Why are my colleagues one of the only groups of frontline public sector workers being penalised in their pockets?”
The keynote addresses were the highlight of day one of PFEW’s Annual Conference 2022 in Manchester.
On behalf of the organisation’s National Board, National Council and 139,000 members, Mr Hartshorn said he wanted to bring to the Government’s attention to four key areas of concern – pay, pensions, presence and pride.
He highlighted the fact rank and file officers have endured a real terms pay cut of 20 per cent since 2010 which is only being exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis.
PFEW’s campaign for fair pay and work conditions had gained support from people of all walks of life, who police officers serve round the clock, said Mr Hartshorn.
According to a national poll of 2,000 members of the public conducted by PFEW across eight locations in England and Wales in May, it transpired that as many as 75 per cent believed the police deserve a pay rise in line with the rate of inflation.
The poll also found that as many as 79 per cent of the respondents agreed that dangerous jobs, such as police work, deserve the pay which reflects the risk, 74 per cent of them agreed that police deserve a pay rise that adequately compensates them for the risk associated with their work, and 72 per cent supported the Government giving a pay rise to the police at the next opportunity.
In order to further improve work conditions, Mr Hartshorn said the amount of annual leave an officer receives is based on the length of service with the organization believing this contravenes the Equality Act 2010.
“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 or more,” he said. “It’s our view that the current situation has a disproportionate impact on the basis of a number of protected characteristics.”
Along with fairer pay and work conditions, Mr Hartshorn also appealed to the Government to consciously recognise the services of emergency workers who had laid down their lives in the line of duty and institute a medal in their honour. “This medal won’t repay the debt that we owe as a society to those who have been killed in the line of duty, but it will allow the public to express their thanks, and condolences to those officers and their families every time the medal is seen,” he said.
Addressing changes in operational policies brought by the Government, Mr Hartshorn said at present there is no legal entitlement for officers to possess PAVA or TASER under the Firearms Act, whether they are off duty, on call or in between shifts though they may be required to for work or ensuring personal safety.
Therefore, he said, PFEW has proposed an amendment to the Firearms Act to identify what exactly police officers are allowed to carry off duty, on call and under what circumstances. He also voiced concerns raised by the changes to the CPS guidance about evidence disclosure procedures and the resulting additional burden on overall policing.
Mr Hartshorn termed the proposal for a mandatory Licence to Practise for police as “ridiculous” and suggested that a sustainable alternative would be allow all police officers protected learning time to ensure continuous training and development.
Underpinning throughout the speech that “it is time for change”, Mr Hartshorn said that the police service has come a long way already but there is still more to be done, and the PFEW is pursuing an open and honest conversation about Misogyny in policing. “We must therefore all work together to promote an environment where individuals feel empowered to act, challenge and report,” he said in his closing remarks.