13 March 2023
It has taken a non-partisan research group’s ground-breaking study of Government data to highlight the arduous conditions police officers have been operating under and the Government’s continual disdain towards them.
Exposing the Government’s reported blindsided recommendation of a 3.5 per cent police pay rise for this year, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has, through the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and House of Commons Library data, found that police officers are the only group of protective services workers whose pay declined substantially since 2000. It reveals that in the past 22 years, police pay rose by a mere 39 per cent while inflation during the period grew 67 per cent resulting in a fall of pay in real terms by exactly 17 per cent.
Unsurprisingly, in these 22 years, the salaries of MPs rose from £48,371 to £84,144 and that of other public sector workers went up by between 1 and 14 per cent in real terms.
Today, therefore, we are calling out this relentless disregard for the work our police officers do protecting their communities and demanding a reparative minimum 17 per cent police pay award in 2023 to ensure the thin blue line is not permanently shattered.
The independent research is indeed a wake-up call for our policymakers as it establishes what we have been saying over the last more than a decade – the Government has continually failed to understand that its policies on policing are putting members of the public at risk; the public that police officers protect.
The evidence calling on the Government for urgent help is piling up. It is now abundantly, and overwhelmingly, clear that policing needs urgent financial and political support otherwise it will be too late in the day.
In just under three months, at least three policing organisations and a cross-party think-tank have released irrefutable evidence in the public domain calling out the disparity police officers are facing in terms of salaries that takes into account their unique position and responsibilities, including lack of employment rights allowing industrial action.
First, it was our Pay and Morale Survey 2022, which found that 98 per cent of officers in England and Wales are struggling with the increased cost of living and at least one in five officers are planning to resign from the job as soon as possible. The results of the survey clearly illustrated the anger and disillusionment of police officers across England and Wales. However, the Government remained unperturbed by robust evidence pointing out that an increasing number of officers had stopped expecting any recognition from the Government for their unique responsibilities and the restrictions imposed on their industrial rights, which, quite frankly is dangerous.
Last month, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) unequivocally told the Government-appointed, and controlled, Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) that it is high time police officers are compensated for the enormous real terms pay loss suffered in the past decade. Through their own research, both NPCC and PSA established that ‘real term pay of officers has decreased by 17 per cent in the past decade’.
In their submissions to the PRRB, the NPCC said the 17 per cent fall had ‘resulted into the erosion of the pay premium, which is designed to compensate officers for the unique nature of their work’, the PSA called for ‘urgent action from the Government to prevent a further decline in workforce morale, the further growth of negative workplace cultures, and the potential loss of years of experience form the service’.
Now, as revealed by the SMF study, even the Government’s own data confirms that police pay has risen at barely half the rate of an average UK employee since 2000 and has, in fact, fallen by 17 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2022, while salaries of other comparator groups of workers, such as prison service officers and fire service officers, and other public sector workers has grown between 1-14 per cent.
Police officers do not look for praise from the Government, they want the Government to be sensitive about their contributions to their communities and sacrifices made in the line of duty to protect the public.
Are we wrong to expect a government, which attained an 80-seat majority in the last general election on the back of a domestic agenda that included a focus on crime and policing, to recognise and adequately compensate for the danger police officers put themselves in day in and day out, and the increasing workload they manage to keep crime at bay, alongside every direct and indirect contribution made to keep society safe?
I am worried if the Government doesn’t change course, it will go down in history as an invisible and insensitive government which did not acknowledge responsibility to the people, the very people officers strive to protect by endangering their lives.