Furious Police Federation officials have overwhelmingly backed a vote of no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel after she vowed to press ahead with a pay freeze for police officers just weeks after telling them: “I’ve got your backs”.
An extraordinary National Council meeting, the Federation also decided to withdraw its support and engagement from the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) after branding the latest move “the final straw”.
Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe said the branch fully supported the National Council’s stance.
He said: “We have been left with little choice but to withdraw our support for the Police Remuneration Review Body. Yesterday’s pay announcement was a real kick in the teeth to our members who have shown total dedication and professionalism during this dreadful pandemic yet once again feel they are being taken for granted and treated with contempt.
“Priti Patel has effectively told the thousands of brave men and women who do so much to protect their communities that they are having their pay cut and I think most people would agree that is an insult.”
National chair John Apter said: “The PRRB is not truly independent, the body which is the only mechanism we have to consider any pay award for police officers, has its hands constantly tied by the Government which continually interferes. The PRRB itself recognises its lack of independence.
“We can no longer accept this and have no confidence in this system which is why we are walking away.
“We often hear the Home Secretary praise police officers but our members are so angry with this Government. They have been on the frontline of this pandemic for 18 months and will now see other public services given pay increases while they receive nothing.
“At the beginning of this pandemic they endured PPE shortages and were not even prioritised for the vaccination. They continue to be politicised and this pay announcement is the final straw.
“As the organisation that represents more than 130,000 police officers I can say quite categorically – we have no confidence in the current Home Secretary. I cannot look my colleagues in the eye and do nothing.”
In a statement issued after today’s National Council meeting, the Police Federation said: “For too long PFEW has also been forced to enter into an unfair pay process with the odds weighted firmly in the favour of the Government.
“The PRRB’s lack of independence is something the body recognises itself and even highlights in its report.
“With inflation set to increase to almost four per cent later this year, this is yet another real-terms pay cut for police officers in England and Wales and a huge slap in the face for our members who have been attacked and vilified while holding the frontline during this pandemic.
“PFEW has tried its level best to be entirely co-operative in all dealings with the Government. But this Government and this Home Secretary, for all their talk of how much they value what we do, have made this impossible. They cannot be trusted or taken at face value in the way we would expect.
“As the undisputed voice of policing we say this to the Home Secretary: you cannot pat our members on the back for their heroic efforts with one hand, while effectively taking their pay with the other. Warm words are no longer enough.”