‘Hypocrisy and lies’ as May breaks ten-year promise on police pay

A letter from Theresa May to a police officer in 2008 has emerged showing the now Prime Minister pledged to give MPs a say on police pay if the Government rejected independent arbitrated awards. 

Sep 20, 2018
By Serena Lander

In light of the promise made in the communication, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has described the Prime Minister’s rejection of the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) recommendations in 2017 and 2018, without referral to the House of Commons, as “hypocrisy and lies”. 

The Government announced last month that it would not be implementing the Police Remuneration Review Body’s (PRRB) recommendation to award officers a three per cent rise.  

However, the letter from Mrs May – who was then Shadow Leader of the House – reveals she pledged that a Conservative government would refer any decision not to accept independent arbitration awards to the House of Commons. 

While recognising that she could not guarantee to grant the awards due to possible unforeseen financial pressures, she said: “From now on in government we would require that any departure from independent arbitration awards is subject to the positive approval of the House of Commons.” 

She said this arrangement would also apply to the prison and armed services. 

“So under a Conservative Government, a Home Secretary could not depart from an arbitration award without the approval of the House of Commons.” 

The PRRB supported the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) submission that officers should be awarded a three per cent rise, but said it should apply to all of England and Wales. 

However, the Government limited increases to just two per cent – one per cent of last year’s was non-consolidated and will therefore not be carried forward to this year, making the net increase in pay packets in September just one per cent.  

The Government did not refer the decision to the House of Commons. 

It has since been reported that the Home Secretary recommended acceptance of the award. However, he told Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales annual conference last week that it was a collective Cabinet decision not to accept the PRRB recommendation. 

In its submission to the PRRB, the PFEW had claimed a pay increase of 3.4 per cent, insisting that it should all be consolidated. 

PFEW Chair John Apter, who posted the letter on Twitter, said that “it shows the hypocrisy and lies from a Prime Minister who has herself betrayed police officers across this country”. 

The letter was sent at a time officers were marching in central London in protest at the then Labour government’s decision not to backdate a delayed pay award. 

Mrs May criticised former Labour Home Secretary Jaqui Smith’s failure to implement the arbitration pay award in 2008 as “disrespect verging on contempt for the police”. 

Last week, MPS Commissioner Cressida Dick told the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales annual conference it is a matter of principle that officers must have confidence in an independent body deciding on their pay.  

“That, in my view, puts an obligation on the Government to respect the carefully developed arguments and recommendations of the pay review body. 

“I am sorry to say that decision will have affected morale, it will affect recruitment, and it will perhaps affect retention.” 

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister were unable to comment at the time of publication. 

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