Thank you doesn’t quite cut it, Prime Minister - Police Federation Chair

Posted On: 
17th August 2018

Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter writes following the Westminster attack this week; that it should act as a wake-up call to the Government to “invest more in the police service and put measures in place to protect the people who protect us”.

Policing in Westminster Policing in Westminster after the Terror attack on 14th August
Credit: 
PA

It is disappointing that in times of crisis, such as the terrorist attack in Westminster on 14 August, Government ministers are first to celebrate how brilliant our police officers are.

But then when it comes to important issues around remuneration, the lack of resilience and the increased demand our colleagues are facing, those who have the power to do something about the crisis in policing simply turn a blind eye.

The level of extreme terrorism that we are facing in the UK cannot be underestimated and if the threat from terrorism isn’t enough for the government to wake up and invest adequately in our police service than I don’t know what is.

Our officers are out there risking their lives day in day out to protect the public and the very least they deserve is to be supported for the extremely dangerous and demanding job they do.

I’m afraid a ‘thank you’ doesn’t quite cut it.

We have heard that the Home Secretary urged the Prime Minister to honour the Independent pay body recommendation and this was ignored. It is no wonder many police officers feel the contempt the Prime Minister has for policing and for those who deliver it is very personal.

The demand on our police service has never been higher and our police officers are undervalued and overworked. Findings from our 2016 Demand, Capacity and Welfare survey show that 66 per cent of officers indicated that their workload was too high and 80 percent of officer said they have suffered from stress, low mood and anxiety – 92 per cent of which said their psychological difficulties had been caused or made worse by work.

Is this evidence not enough of a wakeup call that the government need to invest more in the police service and put measures in place to protect the people who protect us?

Since 2010 we have lost more than 22,000 officers since with 80 per cent of those having been taken from the frontline. This includes 3,500 neighbourhood officers who are the eyes and ears of our communities and vital in detecting and preventing serious crime including terrorism. 

I hope those who were injured in the recent terrorist attack make a full and speedy recovery. I also commend our incredible police officers who continue to run towards danger and put their lives on the line to protect us – all we ask is that they are recognised, supported and adequately remunerated for doing so.

More than 27,000 police officers – nearly a quarter of all ranks from constable to chief inspector – took part in the Police Federation’s pay and morale survey from April to May this year.

The findings provide vital evidence which informs our work on pay and conditions, but they should also serve as a wake-up call to the government. The headline figures are that more officers than ever have taken second jobs (7.8% up from 6.3% a year ago) and a staggering 44.8% of respondents said they worry about their personal finances every day or almost every day.

More than one in nine officers (11.8%) told us they rarely have enough money to cover all of their essentials, and close to 90% do not feel fairly paid considering the stresses and strains of their job.

These findings, while hardly a surprise, nevertheless make grim reading. Our members are suffering from even worse financial pressures than last year, with some appearing to be in dire straits. They are under immense pressure to deliver, with dwindling resources and rising crime - particularly violent crime - leading to a demand for our services that has never been higher.