By Simon Newport, chair of North Wales Police Federation
I am encouraged the passion and enthusiasm our new PFEW Chair, John Apter, has for the national chair’s role and we have already seen him taking a very positive step in instigating legal action against the Government with regards to this year’s pay rise recommendation. I, for one, wish him and the whole organisation the very best of luck in this as not only the moral thing to do but also because it bodes well for the future.
The autumn budget has just been delivered and, disappointingly, other than £160 million for counter terrorism policing which is, of course, welcome, no new or extra money was allocated to the police service despite a growing wave of organisations, including ourselves, the Superintendents’ Association, the Police Crime Commissioners’ Association and recently, and not before time, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, calling for increased funding as sustained budget cuts have left the service vulnerable and on the brink of collapse.
Without wishing to seem political, regardless as to who is in power, the blatant disregard shown by Government is unbelievable and bordering on arrogant when it has been advised by the professionals that the police service is struggling to fulfil its core responsibilities.
With regards to our pay, there was an announcement in the budget that the new national living wage is to increase to £8.21 an inflation-busting increase of 4.9 per cent!
Is it right that a newly appointed constable, starting on £19,971*, is paid £9.60 per hour which, less their pension contributions of 12.44 per cent, gives them an hourly wage of £8.40?
Yes, I hear the argument that upon completing seven years a constable will earn £39,150 but surely the fact that you are asking someone who shortly will have to achieve degree level education to even consider joining the police to work for just 19p an hour more than someone on the national living wage is just utterly wrong?
That’s why we are calling for a sensible and fair pay increase and that’s why it is right to take legal action against the Government over our pay.
It could well be the case that the next budget, scheduled for March 2019, could see the national living wage exceed that of a newly appointed constable and that opens serious questions about corruption risk and integrity, if the current figures don’t already?
We have, in the past, been accused of crying wolf by a certain Home Secretary when we warned that cuts have consequences and that reducing police budgets year on year would see an increase in crime. All of these things have now come true and if the pay of police officers continues to fall, the risk of corruption will increase.
We need to pay our police officers a decent wage that reflects the complicated, difficult and often dangerous work they do in protecting our communities across the United Kingdom and we need to do it sooner than later.
You will be able to read Simon’s full article in the December edition of Your Voice.
*North Wales starting salary is £23,586 due to the enhancement for competency in the Welsh language. This equates to £11.34 per hour and £9.93 after pension contributions.