Top cop backs officers in pay row

SUFFOLK'S top cop today backed the country's police in their pay battle with the government.

SUFFOLK'S top cop today backed the country's police in their pay battle with the government.

As the bitter dispute over the home secretary's refusal to back-date a wage increase rumbles on, chief constable Simon Ash offered his support to officers, adding he “fully understood” their stance.

And he dismissed claims that the controversial decision to ignore the recommendations of an arbitration panel and delay the wage increase had been made because police forces could not afford the move.

A 2.5 per cent pay rise has been agreed but home secretary Jacqui Smith back-dated it to December last year, rather than September - the start of the police pay year.

The police federation, which represents officers, claims her decision means the rise is worth just 1.9pc annually.

Mr Ash said: “My view is that the arbitration decision was a fair deal.

Most Read

“The government decided to pay from December rather than September, but my view is the pay should have been backdated to September.

“The debate was whether it was affordable, but this force and others across the country would have budgeted for the September rise anyway.

“It's a bit disappointing we have found ourselves in the position we are in and I fully understand the way my officers feel in respect of the outcome.”

The police federation last week applied for judicial review of the government's decision.

Ministers argue that staggering the increase is necessary for economic stability and that since 1997 constables have had an overall rise of 10pc above inflation.

Both Ms Smith and Prime Minister Gordon Brown claim the award is appropriate and is in line with inflation targets - in particular, it is within the government's 2pc public sector pay limit.

Do you support the police's stance? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail