Blog: Why it’s vital police staff have their say this week

UNISON has pushed to get the best possible pay offer for 2021 and 2022 – but we now need a high turnout in our consultative ballot

Christina McAnea

Police staff aren’t always the first people that spring to mind when the public thinks about the police service. But when their roles include 999 call-handlers, dispatchers, crime scene investigators, police community support officers, investigators, analysts, and custody officers, it’s clear their work is vital for community safety.

Right now, UNISON is balloting around 30,000 police staff members in England and Wales to consult them on the latest offer negotiated with employers. The ballot closes this Friday, 29 April at 12 noon and it is the first online consultation we have held for police staff.

The Westminster government’s pay freeze policy has pushed police employers to open their latest offer with a zero increase for most police staff, and £250 for all police staff earning under £24,000.

How did our members respond? Quite rightly, they rejected the offer in our consultation, so our team went back for a further six months of negotiations to get an improved offer. This offer now includes:

  • a pay rise for all police staff of 2.1% halfway through the 2021 pay year and lasting for 17 months to 31 August 2023
  • an increase in the minimum annual leave from 23 days to 24 days on appointment and from 28 to 29 days after 5 years’ service
  • a minimum pay point in the pay scale which remains above the Joseph Rowntree Real Living Wage of £9.90/hour
  • a re-opener clause to take effect if police officers get a pay award in September this year, larger in cash equivalent terms to the police staff award to ensure that police staff do not suffer a detriment in comparison with their police officer colleagues.

We’re consulting on a neutral basis – because, although we got some improvements to the original offer, they’re still not good enough for our Police Staff Committee for England and Wales to recommend that members vote for them.

Usually, the Committee would recommend that members either vote to accept or reject a pay offer. But not this time, because the cost of living crisis, and very difficult rounds of negotiations have put us in a very different place.

Members’ views are vital and they will determine what UNISON does next. They’re the bedrock of our union’s democracy. But if members want to reject the pay offer, they’ll need to prepare for serious and sustained industrial action to get more improvements.

Make sure you have your say – remember you have until 12 noon this Friday to cast your vote.

Find out more about the police staff pay campaign.