PM criticised for staging 'PR stunt' to launch crime plan

The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have been accused of staging a PR stunt after visiting Surrey Police headquarters today (July 27) to launch the Government’s new crime-fighting plan.

Jul 27, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Mel Warnes (Pic: Martis Media)

Mel Warnes, chair of the Surrey Police Federation, criticised Boris Johnson and Priti Patel for attempting to portray a rosy relationship between policing and the Government when nothing could be further from the truth.

Ms Warnes said: “Our colleagues should not be used as public relations pawns by politicians. I very much doubt any of our colleagues will be smiling at the thought of meeting two people who have decided against giving them any sort of pay rise… despite everything police officers across the country have done these past 18 months.

“Police officers have given everything. The Government has given us nothing. Frankly their visit is not welcomed by I am sure the majority of hard-working police officers.”

Just days ago (July 22), the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) passed a vote of no confidence in the Home Secretary after she awarded police officers a zero per cent pay rise.

The PFEW has also withdrawn its support and engagement from the Police Remuneration Review Body, labelling the current police officer pay mechanism ‘not fit for purpose’.

“Hard working Surrey Police officers should not be used to show that everything is rosy with the Government,” said Ms Warnes. “The Government has given us meaningless platitudes and empty words for too long and has given us nothing in return. The proposed zero per cent pay rise we have been granted – or not granted – is nothing short of a disgrace.

“Our members have worked through the Covid-19 pandemic – there has been no working from home for the majority of frontline officers. They have put themselves in harm’s way whilst trying to protect the public, protect themselves and importantly keep their families and friends safe.

“For the Government to not even consider a pay rise for police officers is a real kick in the teeth and shows a total lack of respect and contempt towards our officers.”

She added: “Earlier in 2021, police officers – despite the many dangers they face – officers were also told that they would not receive any sort of priority for the Covid-19 vaccine.

“To top it off we have now not been given a pay rise, yet we see other public service areas – firefighters and the NHS – receiving an increase to pay. It just shows what police officers truly mean to the Government. We have limited rights as police officers and the Government needs to stop taking advantage of that. “

Police officers in Surrey have received backing from Chief Constable Gavin Stephens who posted a Tweet last week stating: “Colleagues have done extraordinary work during the pandemic & in real terms officer pay is behind where it was a decade ago. It is critical that we reward & retain experienced officers & thousands of new recruits with pay that allows a good standard of living.

“In future years, fully funding increases, keeping pace with inflation and allowing officers’ earnings to catch up, is essential for financial well-being and to recognise the exceptional work done to keep communities safe and feeling safe.”

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