Priti Patel under fire as Suffolk's Police Federation chairman brands pay freeze a 'slap in the face'
A pay freeze for officers has been branded a 'slap in the face' by the chairman of Suffolk's Police Federation, as pressure mounts on the Government to change its mind.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, announced that officers earning more than £24,000 would not have their pay increased "in order to ensure fairness between public and private sector wage growth" and that the "pause ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented Government spending".
But Darren Harris, the chairman of Suffolk's Police Federation, tonight blasted the pay freeze and said it was a "slap in the face for police officers who have given their all and put their health at risk while policing during the pandemic".
Describing the pay announcement as a bitter blow, Mr Harris said officers had carried on as if it was 'business as usual in circumstances that have been far from normal'.
"They have put their own health at risk while serving their communities, dealing with all the regular calls for assistance, fighting crime, keeping order and protecting the vulnerable," he said.
"They have also had to adapt to seemingly ever-changing Covid-19 regulations and restrictions, often at short notice, and police in what have been incredibly challenging times. While doing that they have been assaulted, spat at and coughed over by individuals claiming to have coronavirus."
The announcement was made as workers in the NHS were told they would receive a three per cent pay rise. As part of Ms Patel's announcement, made in a written statement to the House of Commons, she said only those earning under £24,000 would get a pay rise worth £250.
Mr Harris added: "The Government has made much of saying it appreciates their efforts and only last month Priti Patel claimed, once again, to ‘have our backs’.
"Quite frankly, if this represents a home secretary who has got our backs then I would dread to think what it would be like if she didn’t – would we be facing a pay cut?"
Much of the anger from the Police Federation is directed at how the pay of police officers is decided. The Police Remuneration Review Body is an independent body responsible for setting pay, but Mr Harris said it was "clearly told what it can and can't do".
“This year, its remit from the Government meant that it could not recommend a pay lift in keeping with the Government’s decision to pause pay reviews for the majority of the public sector which clearly included police officers," he said.
Tim Passmore, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk, has been contacted for comment but did not respond.