18 July 2022
“The police cannot properly be compared to any other single group of workers,” said the Right Honourable Lord Edmund-Davies PC, in a 1978 report to the Government.
The Committee of Inquiry on the Police, headed by Lord Edmund-Davies, recommended a major revaluation of police pay – between 30 per cent to 45 per cent – while concluding that the police cannot be compared with any other group of public sector workers for the purpose of calculating pay because “the unique nature of the police service and the work they do makes this impossible.”
The Government remained noncommittal and a month later, more than 50,000 police officers decided to initiate industrial action. The Government declared it would implement 50 per cent of the Committee’s recommendations, while the opposition made a manifesto commitment to implement the full recommendations. The opposition came to power in the election of 1979 and honoured its commitment.
It is pertinent to recall this important milestone in the policing history of our country as today's conditions are quite similar.
Today, inflation is at a 40 year high and more than 139,000 police officers in England and Wales are waiting for the Government to announce a new pay reward after enduring a blanket pay freeze for two years, alongside a 20 per cent pay cut in real-terms over the last 12 years. The cost of living crisis has made matters worse, with some officers seeking the help of food banks and others struggling to afford to put fuel in their cars.
We have said it before and we will say it time and time again, that the Government must recognise unique place of police officers in society. They hold the front line and face dangers as they go about their duties, fighting and preventing crime, keeping law and order and protecting the vulnerable.
Policing in our country is in crisis and the Government must step up.
No matter how many times the Government says that it is infusing money into policing, we are not seeing the longer-term funding settlements that would allow Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to plan properly. We are certainly not seeing extra cash making it into the bank accounts of police officers, who are the only ones protecting our communities against crime.
Railway workers have already resorted to strikes driven by the Government’s lethargy and indifference towards their legitimate concerns, while other public sector workers, including the fire service workers, are contemplating similar action. Police officers are prohibited from promoting disaffection within its own ranks and adopting industrial action. Is this why, as many of my colleagues feel, the Government is treating the police as third rate? PFEW challenges those in a position to change our funding to abide by our pay mechanism and code of conduct to see how they fare.
The Government still has time to take steps in the right direction and rectify history's mistakes. As the undisputed voice of policing, PFEW urges the Government to heed the legitimate and increasing concerns of police officers so that this 999 service can continue to serve the public unhindered."