Policing Minister commits to supporting fair police pay

22 May 2018

Question Time panel

Rt Hon Nick Hurd, Sir Thomas Winsor, Louise Haigh MP, PFEW Chair Calum Macleod and NPCC Chair Sara Thornton

Policing Minister Nick Hurd has been put on the spot over police pay. Mr Hurd, who was taking part in today's Question Time at our Conference in Birmingham, was asked directly by the Chair of Sussex Police Federation Matt Webb: "Will you go on record today to say you will argue on our behalf to implement in full the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) report – no ifs, no buts, no spin, no smoke and mirrors – the recommendations in full?"

The minister appeared shocked by the directness of the question and took several seconds to consider his response before saying "I haven’t seen what they are recommending." After being pressed again by Mr Webb the Minister said: “I will always argue as the Policing Minister for fair pay for the police service. I will make that assurance.

"The only reason why I am sounding cautious is that any politician would sound cautious about undertaking to accept in full any recommendation that he or she hasn’t seen. The only caveat is that if what they are proposing is clearly bonkers – and I don’t expect it to be bonkers – then yes I can give you that undertaking."

The same question was then put to the Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh who was also on the panel along with PFEW Chair Calum Macleod, Sir Thomas Winsor Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council Sara Thornton. Ms Haigh said: “I think the PRRB process has been a complete joke. You replaced the negotiating board which enabled the Federation and staff representatives to negotiate directly with the Government, with a board that you claim to be independent and then the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has written to them four years in a row to limit them to 1%. How is that independent? How can the Federation have any faith in the process?"

Ms Haigh then made assurances that if Labour were in government they would look at the arrangements for negotiating pay for all public sector workers and take a different approach. "We will either return to a negotiating position or we will commit to always respect the independence of the pay review body," she said.

In response to a separate question about issues surrounding officer recruitment in some forces due to the salaries on offer, Ms Thornton said there had to be scope for 'flexibility' in offering additional payments to officers in forces where recruitment is an issue. She said: "As a former Chief of Thames Valley it’s really disappointing to hear that the problems we faced 15 years ago are back. How did we solve it last time? If you remember we did a lot of research with the Home Office and we fought for a regional allowance.

"There used to be the SPPs (special priority payments). I know people didn’t like those priority payments but we used them to keep a core of officers in the south eastern forces to supplement people’s salaries."

Ms Thornton also spoke about previous arrangements with the old police authorities which provided officers with housing and how things have changed: "The difficulty is all that flexibility – or a lot of it – has gone.  And so forces like Thames Valley and others such as Surrey are back in this difficult situation where sometimes they have got the money, they just can’t get the people through the doors."