High-ranking police withdraw from pay review system in row over freeze

Darren Harris, Suffolk Police Federation chair

Darren Harris, chairman of Suffolk's Police Federation - Credit: Jason Bye

The head of Suffolk's Police Federation has backed the action of a group of high-ranking officers to withdraw from an independent system that sets their salaries after widespread outrage over a pay freeze.

Darren Harris, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Police Federation, which represents the force's constables, sergeants and inspecting ranks, welcomed the action from the Police Superintendents' Association (PSA). 

The Police Federation announced in July it will withdraw from the process and the organisation will now be joined by the PSA following a bitter row over the government decision to freeze pay for officers who earn more than £24,000.

In contrast, NHS staff will receive a 3% increase and firefighters and local government workers a 1.5% rise.

Normally, the independent Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) gathers information from various groups including those representing officers as well as the Home Office, before recommending what pay levels the government should set.

However, this year, amid fears over spending during the pandemic, the PRRB was not allowed to give recommendations.

Paul Griffiths, president of the PSA, told members yesterday that the organisation will withdraw from the pay review system and there are plans to mount a challenge against it.

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He told members he was "staggered and saddened" to report that the PSA will take legal action against the Government over changes to police pensions.

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The Police Federation withdrew from the pay review system in July - Credit: IAN BURT

Beginning his keynote speech, Mr Griffiths accused the government of "failing officers and staff", despite claims that the police service is valued.

Mr Griffiths said: "We hear that colleagues in the NHS, local authorities and fire service are to receive an uplift, something we applaud. Yet that leaves the police as clear outliers for reasons we cannot fathom.

"No-one enters policing to get rich. It is a vocation and a career that provides challenge and demands sacrifice like no other - something clearly demonstrated amidst the pandemic.

"However, with very few employment rights, it is essential that police officers have fair and transparent processes in place to determine their pay, and that they have a clear voice within this.

"The government direction on public service pay has overridden these processes, making decisions around pay in advance of the evidence it requests from stakeholders right across the service."

Mr Harris called for a "truly independent" pay review for the police. 

“We are supportive of the PSA stance on this," he said.

"It is critically important that the police service has a pay review that is truly independent, not an organisation that is given such a tight remit by the government that it cannot make proper recommendations on officer pay.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said those who contravened restrictions needed to face the consequences. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Priti Patel said the Covid pandemic meant 'tougher choices than usual' had to be made - Credit: Archant

Home secretary and Essex MP Priti Patel, who would normally attend the event in Stratford-upon-Avon in person, instead sent a pre-recorded video message, saying she needed to be in London to vote in parliament.

She said: "The pandemic deepened the disparity between public and private sector wages - many private sector workers lost jobs or saw their wages seriously reduced.

"This meant the chancellor could not justify an across-the-board pay increase for public sector workers.

"He asked the advice of the pay review bodies, proposing to raise pay in the NHS but pause pay rises elsewhere in order to protect jobs.

"This pandemic is something we have never experienced before - a truly seismic event which has affected many sectors and employers across the entire economy.

"It has meant even tougher choices than usual. None of us wanted to be in this situation."

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