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Wiltshire Police Federation

Policing Is Easy Target For Government Cuts

9 March 2023

Policing is an easy target for Government cuts and as a result officers are having to make ends meet after an enormous real terms cut in pay, Wiltshire Police Federation has said.

Chair Phil Matthews was speaking as the Police Federation of England and Wales announced it would be seeking a 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 Phil said it was time police officers were properly recognised for the work they do and are paid fairly for it.

Phil added: “In recent years, the cost of living has increased obscenely and police officers are having to find ways to financially manage with an enormous cut in pay – it just isn’t right.

“We talk in percentages for things like pay and to show what that may mean. Police pay has risen at half the rate of that of other UK employees over that time period.

“Let us remember that police officers cannot take industrial action. Certainly in our county, the majority of officers I speak to would not want to either.

“We don’t do this job for the money, and it is clear to me that it makes us a very easy target for the Governments targeting us for its cuts. No other protective service even comes close to the cuts policing has seen.

“I invite Chief Constables across the country to give comment on this. The Government has been showing its contempt for the danger officers put themselves in for so many years now. In Wiltshire we have a new Chief Constable and I invite her to offer her support or comment to this campaign

“Policing cannot continue like this. Our officers want to prevent and detect crime and help our communities. We are understaffed, underpaid, and exhausted. Sickness due to mental health-related issues is on the increase.

“What happens when policing finally breaks? It’s time we started thinking of an answer to that question. All we ask is fair pay for what we do. Recognition of our role in the communities.”

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.