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17 May 2022
Addressing a packed auditorium at this year’s Police Federation of England and Wales Annual Conference 2022, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had heard PFEW’s National Chair Steve Hartshorn’s vehement appeal for fair pay and conditions for all police officers and impressed that it was imperative they both work together.
“I want the voices of your members to be heard in this process, loudly and clearly” she said while suggesting that PFEW should resume engaging with the Police Remuneration Review Body and adding: “I promise you that I will continue to champion your cause in Whitehall.”
The Home Secretary said she was relaxing all five conditions, stipulated under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, necessary for carrying out Stop and Search. She said: “I listened carefully, and you were very clear: stop and search is a vital tool in getting knives off our streets and saving lives.”
She also declared that Special Constables would be authorised to carry and use Taser adding these measures were being undertaken to help police officers further ensure public safety. “Your voices called for these changes, and having waited too long for a Home Secretary to be on your side and listen to your calls for change, I listened and have acted.”
On the same lines, the Home Secretary said that Harper’s Law – making life imprisonment mandatory for people who kill an emergency worker while committing a crime – would come into effect from end of next month. She praised PFEW’s involvement in campaigning to make the law a reality and said: “Lissie Harper campaigned for this very bravely and effectively, with the full-throated support of the Police Federation.”
Another amendment being introduced is the increase in maximum penalty for assaults on police officers and other emergency workers. “It will now be increased from 12 months to two years in prison for common assault or battery in such cases.”
With regard to PFEW’s appeal for bringing legislation to protect off-duty police officers, the Home Secretary said: “I have listened carefully to Steve’s request that we look at legislation to protect off duty police officers. I will not lie or provide you with government speak. What I will tell you without equivocation is that I stand with you and if I can bring this legislation forward then I will and I will do so with the pride and dignity policing displays daily through the service you give and the sacrifices you make.”
During the Q&A segment of the session, responding to talkRADIO host Ian Colins observation about the disparity between pay of MPs and police officers, the Home Secretary said the Government wants PFEW back around the table for deciding pay recommendations to which Mr Hartshorn replied there is a real need for a pay-rise and we have to be realistic about it.
Taking the debate forward and providing a reality check, DC Vicky Knight of North Wales Police asked the Home Secretary if she would be able to fend for her family in £1,400 per month. Highlighting hardships faced by police officers because of the unfair pay, she said that police officers are struggling to keep the jobs they love. “I have to borrow money from my mum because I do not have fuel money for my car.”
The Home Secretary stressed the Government’s plan to recruit 20,000 police officers by 2023 is on target. “We have about 150,000 till now and this is a testimony of policing considered as an important career. Along with recruitment, we also want to retain skillsets and experienced officers.”