Broken promises are not forgotten, says Federation
The Government has broken a promise made more than a century ago when police officers gave up their right to strike.
That is the view of South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne; a view echoed by the Federation’s national chair.
Steve stressed that people would not forgive politicians who went back on an agreement and highlighted the fact that recent polls showed massive support for the police as they campaign for fair pay.
“The last time the police went on strike was in 1918 when the government of the day failed to respond to their calls for fair pay and conditions. Chaos ensued.
“The government, having been forced to back down, promised fair pay to police officers if they surrendered the right to strike with the deal being enshrined in the Police Act of 1919 which also established by statute the Police Federation of England and Wales.
“Sadly, we are starting to question this arrangement because the Government seems to be going back on its side of the deal.
“Police officers have endured a 20 per cent real-terms pay cut over the last 12 years. The pay freeze last year and the cost of living crisis have combined to create financial difficulties for officers, particularly those young in service, some of whom are taking home as little as £1,200 a month for a role where they are putting their lives on the line to protect their communities. It is simply disgraceful that the police starting pay is lower now than it was in 2010, this without even taking account of inflation.
“We are seeing officers being forced to use food banks and others having to make a choice between buying food or putting fuel in their cars.”
Morale among police officers has fallen to an all-time low and while they have endured a two-year pay freeze, other public sector workers who are allowed to take industrial action have been given pay rises which acknowledge the work they undertook throughout the pandemic.
The discrepancy has not gone unnoticed by members of the public and a national poll of 2,000 people, conducted in May across eight locations in England and Wales, found 75 per cent thought the police deserved a pay rise in line with inflation.
The poll also found that 74 per cent agreed that police officers deserved a pay rise that adequately compensated them for the risk associated with their work, 79 per cent agreed that dangerous jobs such as police work deserved the pay to reflect that risk and 72 per cent supported the Government giving a pay rise to the police at the next opportunity.
In a direct message to the Government, Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) national chair Steve Hartshorn said: “Did our forebears make a mistake in trusting you by giving up our right to strike in 1919 against the promise of fair pay?
“The Government must be reminded of this promise time and time again. Workers in other public sectors are taking industrial action over pay and conditions this summer whilst PFEW members ‘police’ the strikes.
“Our members cannot strike and seem to have no redress to this loss as the law currently prohibits such action by police officers.
“All police officers want is fair pay. A reward that recognises their important place in society, for the dangers they face as they go about their duties fighting and preventing crime, enforcing law and order and protecting the vulnerable, while not having access to employment rights similar to other workers for safeguarding their pay and conditions.”
The national chair insisted the responsibility of any Government was the safety and security of its citizens and warned it would struggle to fulfil its obligations when the police faced such huge challenges as a result of broken promises.
He added: “We now have a new Commissioner of Police in the Metropolitan Police Service, a new policing minister, a new Chancellor and an experienced Home Secretary, all of whom know how important policing is to everyday life.
“It is time the Government values that importance and realises that people will not forgive broken promises.”