Treat officers with respect’ Government told

The Police Federation has demanded a “total reset” of the relationship between the Government and the police in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The letter was delivered to Downing Street today by national chair John Apter and set out three actions the Government must take if it wants to repair its fractured relationship with the police: 

• Stop taking police officers for granted and treat them with respect.

• Agree to work with the Federation on an entirely new and fairer system of remuneration decision-making.

• Reverse the zero per cent pay award decision and give police officers a meaningful pay increase.

It follows last week’s National Council meeting which passed a motion of  no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel and agreed to walk away from the Police Remuneration Review Body which it branded  “not fit for purpose” after a bitterly-opposed pay freeze for officers earning more than £24,000-a-year was confirmed.

Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe said: “Our members feel let down and betrayed by the Government and they are angry. This letter should make the Prime Minister sit up and take notice of the strength of feeling of our members.

“The police have been at the frontline since the start of the pandemic, often working in very challenging and dangerous conditions. They now feel that they are being treated with contempt by the ministers who have assured them they have the full support of the Government and yet do not back up their warm words with actions.

“They have shown little respect or recognition for the amazing work carried out by our members over the last 18 months.”

The letter reveals the depth of the anger police officers feel towards the Government.

It says: “This is about much more than money, though for many the offer of a zero per cent pay rise, after all the police have been through in helping deal with the pandemic, was the final straw.

“It is about the risks you asked us to take - which we did, because it is our duty - without proper PPE. It is about the endlessly changing and confusing Covid legislation which we were expected to police - which we did, because it is our duty. It is about your mixed messaging and lack of understanding of our role, which combined to put many of our members in invidious positions which led to them being abused and attacked.

“It is about the failure, despite the promises of the Home Secretary, to take seriously our request that police officers should be given early priority for vaccination. It is about the very strong feeling we have, not least when the Prime Minister and Home Secretary spoke at our annual conference, that the warm words flow easily, but the actions that show genuine support for the police do not.

“Just this weekend, we found out through a Sunday newspaper column about a new so-called Beating Crime Plan. We don’t need old ideas presented as new, we need genuine investment for the whole of the Criminal Justice System and genuine consultation over new ideas. Without that, this is just another ill-thought-out initiative.

“Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk. Sick of Government contempt for police. It’s time for a total reset of police-Government relations.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse promised the Government would do “other things” to make police officers feel “valued and supported”.

He told Sky News: “We want to make sure that officers feel valued and rewarded and are supported in doing their job. And while obviously a decision was taken last week around pay which is tough, there are lots of other things about policing which have been good over the last couple of years.

“It has been tough this year. I hope we can return to some kind of normality in the future, but our economy is in some difficulties. Obviously the private sector has taken a big hit and it is the private sector that pays for the public sector, and we have to balance all those things.”