Unions write to home secretary demanding police staff pay freeze is overturned

UNISON and other police staff unions demand rethink

Unions representing police staff, including control room operatives, 999 calls handlers and forensic specialists, have written to the home secretary Priti Patel today (Wednesday) asking her to urgently reconsider the decision to impose a pay freeze on the majority of police staff this year.

In July, the Police Staff Council decided police staff earning over £24,000 a year would have their pay frozen for 2021/22, with those earning below that figure receiving an increase of just £250 a year.

In their letter, the unions – UNISON, GMB and Unite – highlight that police staff are the only group of emergency responders to have had a pay freeze imposed on them. NHS emergency responders have been offered a three per cent pay increase, while firefighters will receive a 1.5% pay rise.

Police staff, who continued to work throughout the pandemic, often in very difficult and trying conditions, are particularly incensed at the pay freeze after the home secretary wrote to them last November thanking them for their “tireless work” and describing “control room staff in particular as the unsung heroes of the crisis”.

The letter to Ms Patel states: “Not surprisingly, our members now wonder what has happened to the government’s sense of gratitude for the work they carry out 24/7 to keep our communities safe. Put simply, thanks won’t pay the bills.

UNISON national officer for police staff Ben Priestley said: “Those working for the police service have been singled out by the government to be the only emergency service personnel denied a pay rise this year.

“This decision isn’t right, fair or decent. Police staff deserve a pay award.”

Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “Police staff have constantly gone the extra mile to keep the general public safe throughout the pandemic. To reward that dedication with a pay freeze is deeply insulting.

“Workers in the other emergency services will receive a pay increase this year and the government has a moral duty to reverse this grossly unfair decision and deliver a pay increase for police staff.”

GMB national officer George Georgiou said: “The absolute hypocrisy of this government is truly shocking.

“Damning us with faint praise on the one hand whilst reducing our take home pay with the other.

“Nothing but a substantial above inflation pay rise will suffice given the sacrifices police staff have made throughout the pandemic – on top of 10 years of needless austerity.

“Police staff anger has never been greater while morale has never been lower. They deserve better.”

Notes to editors:
– The RPI inflation rate for July stood at 3.8 per cent, which means the pay freeze amounts to a substantial real-terms pay cut for police staff.