Government accused of showing contempt to police officers

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

A letter expressing the anger and frustrations of Federation members was delivered to Downing Street by national chair John Apter this afternoon.

And it 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.

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne said: “Hopefully, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will take the contents of this letter seriously and start taking action to repair the damaged relationship between the Government and the police.

“Our members do not feel they are being shown the respect and recognition they deserve for the sacrifices they made during the coronavirus pandemic and that has led to widespread anger.

“The police have been at the frontline of the pandemic, trying to enforce constantly-changing rules while trying to keep our country safe.

“They faced an unprecedented rise in abuse and assaults from the public and at the same time came under fire from the media with some sections complaining they were being too heavy handed while others attacked them for not being strict enough.

“The pressure on the police has been extraordinary over the last 18 months and the people who have promised to support us are now treating us with utter contempt.”

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.”