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Norfolk Police Federation

No Surprise That Police Pay Lags Behind Other Sectors

9 March 2023

The Police Federation of England and Wales has called for a minimum 17% pay rise for police officers this year.

The PFEW came to the figure after a report by independent think tank Social Market Foundation showed that police officer pay had declined by 17% in real terms since 2000.

And Andy Symonds, Chair of Norfolk Police Federation, said it was “simply outrageous that the attack on our pay and conditions has continued for this length of time.”

Andy added: “The time has come for the Government to accept that for 23 years police officers’ pay and conditions have been under constant attack, leading to a reduction of 17% in real terms in officers pay.

“We have been the poor cousin amongst other public sector workers – the majority of which have the ability to withdraw their labour and have industrial rights. It’s no surprise to officers therefore that they have fallen way behind other workers.

“No account has been taken of the fact that officers simply have to accept what’s given to them as they have no recourse to challenge the constant denigration of their pay, allowances and conditions of service.

“Enough is enough. Officers are struggling to make ends meet. We’re handing out food to officers and their families for goodness sake. In what world has this become the norm or remotely acceptable?

“This is not a job in which you can allow people to be paid so poorly that they have to look for other jobs to supplement their income.

“The job of a police officer is highly complex, and tough mentally and physically. Officers suffer with being attacked both verbally and physically on a daily basis for simply doing the job. It is simply outrageous that the attack on our pay and conditions has continued for this length of time.

“The officers I represent rightly feel that the reason officers have suffered more than any other worker is that the Government can simply impose any pay rise they see fit as we cannot do anything about it.

“We’ve seen with the Home Office submission to the laughably named independent pay review body for the 2023 pay round. The Government believe officers are only worth a 3.5% pay award. It’s another nail in the coffin for police pay going forwards.

“How can this Government made up of human beings thinks it’s acceptable to recommend a measly 3.5% for this years pay award taking into account everything that’s happened to police officers’ pay and conditions over many years.

“Well I know why they can, it’s because they do not fear any sort of reaction in terms of industrial action as officers are legally banned from any form of industrial rights. It feels that this Government can continue to attack officers pay as we’re an easy target, sitting ducks who can’t fight for fair pay.

“We’re seeing the impact of poor pay and conditions in the numbers of officers leaving the service, which is at an all-time high. Last year in Norfolk, 55 officers resigned, more than double the number who resigned in 2018. This is being replicated on a bigger scale across the police service.

“If this direction of travel continues with year-on-year poor pay and conditions we will have a position so entrenched that policing will not be a career worth having for anyone, we won’t attract the best as they will look elsewhere for a career that pays them fairly for the work they do.

“We will continue to lose lots of experienced officers who resign as they can find work elsewhere paid much more money for less stressful and complex work, they won’t be violently attacked, they can’t be ordered to work overtime, ordered to work on their days off and miss family events over Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

“Who’d be a cop in 2023? Not many do and we’re seeing many come to that realisation either not applying at all, or when they do join they jump a sinking ship very quickly as they realise that being a police officer cannot sustain being able to live a decent life with a good standard of living.”

The SMF research also found that police pay fared badly when compared to other protective services and public sector workers, whose pay rose by 1% and 14% respectively over the same period.

The report also claimed that the decline in police pay is likely to be linked the restrictions on their right to strike.

And it added that if the current police pay trend continued, officer remuneration would drop by a further 4% in real terms by 2027.

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said: “The Government can no longer sit by and ignore our members’ basic needs and must recognise the impact of this independent research. In the context of ongoing inflation, indications of a police retention crisis, and reports of officers being forced to turn to food banks, the issue of police pay must be addressed now after more than a decade of being ignored.

“Police officers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that begins with better pay. Pay that not only reflects the cost-of-living crisis that many of us face but puts right the 17% decline since 2000 and compensates officers for the dangers they’re exposed to as part of the job. They must be compensated fairly for doing a job that is so important and unique that they do not have access to industrial rights.”

The report also found that a key factor in discussions over police pay should be what it called the “P-factor”: an element of police pay that reflects the unique obligations and responsibilities police officers’ experience relative to other comparable roles. This includes their unique risk of exposure to physical and psychological harm, alongside the restrictions that are placed upon their private lives.