I like to think I am a reasonable person and judge people based on what they say, what they do and on my own knowledge and experience of them. I listened to the current home secretary at the Police Federation conference in May and he received a warm welcome as the audience eagerly waited to hear some words of support from a Conservative party Home Secretary. He was asked directly about police pay & conditions during the Q & A session and he gave what can only be described as an assurance that he believed police pay needed improving and budgets for policing needed to increase to meet current demand. He assured the slightly suspicious audience that he would do all in his power to ensure an increase in funding and would look favourably at the pay award proposed by the independent Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) who propose the amount of the annual Police pay rise.
The Policing minister, Nick Hurd, said similar words just the day before Sajid Javid spoke and he told conference they would see and hear a different approach from this home secretary than they had from both of his predecessors. This home secretary told the conference that he understood policing and he made good use of the fact his brother was a serving officer and he would do his best to get a fair deal for policing. He talked the talk, he sounded like he was one of the policing family and he would get a fair deal in respect of pay because he knew about the job.
These words were welcomed by most of the audience and there was quiet confidence that finally we had a government minister who would argue and fight for policing and honour the recommendations of PRRB, a group set up by the current government to independently assess pay awards for policing every year. There were some sceptics in the audience and on social media that he was yet another Tory, he was just a government puppet and would do Mrs Mays bidding and that the real problem and stumbling block for police pay lay at the very head of government and the Conservative party – Theresa May.
I tweeted supportive comments for Mr Javid and Mr Hurd and asked that the policing family give them time and judge them on their actions and not on what Theresa May and Amber Rudd had failed to do or the actions of their political party over the last few years.
Sadly, the sceptics have been proved right and once again the Police service has been lied to, misled and disrespected by the same government albeit from a different messenger, and this time someone professing to know and understand policing, claiming almost to be one of our own. This time the betrayal feels personal, the lies and spin put out by the Conservatives are getting worse. The PRRB recommended 3% but the government have `awarded` 2% yet in real terms it equates to 0.85% and around £2.50 per week. The 0.85% figure is reached by the fact that of last year’s 2%, only 1% was consolidated. That 1% has now been removed by the Government for this year’s pay award, so the actual uplift is worth approximately 0.85% to Constables. In real terms Police officer pay has decreased by approximately 18% since 2009/2010.
I really hoped that Mr Javid would show some backbone and his actions would match the words he spoke to the federation conference, but they have not. This latest `pay award` is funded entirely from existing police budgets, not from any additional government money, it is derisory and disgraceful. Serious crime is up, violent crime is up, and every front-line officer will tell you they need more officers to meet increasing demand, yet police numbers are down. It sounds like there is almost a deliberate programme to weaken the Police service and that would mean many policing roles would have to be privatised. Who would benefit from a programme like that?
I agree that the NHS, teachers and armed forces all deserve an increase in pay but so does policing. The governments priorities are all self-serving and designed to reduce policing to the stage where some aspects are privatised to the benefit of wealthy private companies. It is not a coincidence that the pay award was announced just before parliament goes into its summer recess for many weeks, no time to debate or challenge ministers on their outright betrayal of Policing and blatant disregard for increasing violent crime which puts the public at risk.
There is a crisis in policing, but it is one designed, organised and perpetuated by the current government and current Prime minister as it seems to be driven by the personal wishes of one person. I had much higher hopes and expectations for Mr Javid based on his words which sounded and appeared genuine with a heart touching reference to his own family links to policing. My faith and trust was misplaced as his actions have shown him to be exactly the same as all the other sycophants that Mrs May seems determined to surround herself with.
I genuinely now fear for Policing unless there is a change in leadership of the current government or a change in government and the latter option fills me with as much trepidation as continuing with the current leader of the country. I just wish Police chiefs would unite and find their collective voice and not just a month before they retire or a month after. Speak out now and tell the public and MP`s the honest and true situation of policing as a direct result of the budget restraints imposed by this government. Tell them what Policing can no longer truthfully achieve, the investigations that cannot be concluded, the calls that cannot be answered and the crimes that will not be reported.
The Police family need to unite and speak out against this concerted attack on their officers and the service they want to provide. The public want an effective and efficient police service, they deserve one, but it is being frustrated by the very people elected to ensure that is what they receive.