Trust Lost Over Police Pay

There is a marked difference between the treatment of police officers' pay north and south of the Scottish border.

While the Scottish Government has agreed to implement the recent independent pay tribunal's award in full, the same rise for officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is not being similarly backdated – leading to huge discontent among the normally calm and composed officers.

The Government has agreed to the rise but not to backdated it to September, saying this met its inflation target.

However, the Police Federation says this has caused "extreme anger" among officers.

Chairman Jan Berry said officers felt betrayed by the decision to not backdate the rise.

Now the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has added its voice and said it is a "question of trust".

Chairman Keith Vaz has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith urging her to "honour the terms of the independent tribunal" which called for a 2.5% rise.

Already, some 177 MPs have signed parliamentary motions saying the award should be paid in full to the officers.

Mr Vaz's letter said: "We do not accept that the police are in the same position as other public service workers in that they do not have the ability to withdraw their labour in pursuit of any pay claim.

"We feel it is incumbent on government to honour the terms of the independent tribunal. This is a question of trust."

Speaking at the committee meeting, Ms Berry said: "I don't believe in my service that I have witnessed the anger with regard to pay that I am witnessing at the moment.

"Wherever I go now I'm receiving exactly the same messages. There is extreme anger."

There is a "tremendous amount" of political and public support over the issue, she added.

Ms Berry said she did not accept the prime minister's argument that backdating the 2.5% rise to 1 September for officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be inflationary.

She said the Bank of England did not agree with his view and the police were being used to make an example.

Indeed, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Steve Green, told the committee the decision had come as a "real body blow" to many police.

He read out a selection of some 400 e-mails he had received from officers in his county, including one from an officer who was wounded in a shooting incident in February 2006.

She wrote: "There's a lack of respect for the police in England. The government are leading this lack of respect.

"As a young in-service officer, I am low down on the pay scales and any cut in wages is having a massive impact on me due to inflation."

The 2.5% pay deal was decided through the independent Police Arbitration Tribunal.

It will see all police constables paid a minimum of £21,500, while those with the longest service will receive £33,800.

But officers say if it is introduced this month and not backdated to September, an entry level police constable will lose £131, and a sergeant will lose £206.

At present, the police are forbidden from taking strike action by an act of Parliament, but the Police Federation will ballot in the new year over a demand this ban is removed – including in Northern Ireland.


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