Open letter to the Home Secretary

22 Jul, 2021

Dear Home Secretary

I’m sure the subject of this letter will come as no surprise to you, but I feel it necessary to highlight from the outset, my absolute disgust at the decision to award Police Officers no pay rise. This government’s utter contempt of policing is beyond anything I’ve seen before and is an overt and blatant attack on the organisation that protects the very fabric of this country.

You have taken the opportunity to take advantage of our unique position as crown servants as you know our fate lies completely in your hands. In your statement regarding the pay review you claim parity across the ‘majority’ of public sector workforces, yet our colleagues in the NHS and Fire Service see pay increases. Whilst I would wholeheartedly agree that our colleagues deserve these rises, your decision to neglect Police Officers is both divisive and punishing.

Let’s be clear, the treasury estimates inflation will be 3.7% this year. That relates to a real term pay reduction of over £1000 for a top salary PC. Add that to the insulting pay rises over the past eleven years and we have taken an overall pay cut that is incomprehensible, yet MP’s continue to award themselves completely unwarranted and unfair pay increases.

There is no way of flowering this up. You speak in your statement of recognising ‘the bravery, commitment and professionalism of our police who work night and day to keep us safe and we will continue to give them the resources, tools and powers they need to protect the public.’ Well Home Secretary, words have no meaning without action. I and the vast majority of my colleagues find your statement not only hollow and embarrassing, but completely patronising.

To attack and dismantle our pension was one thing, but to continually diminish our pay and affect our financial ability to live is abhorrent. 

I write to you in my capacity as Wellbeing Lead for Cheshire Police Federation with Wellbeing being the subject I wish to bring firmly into this argument. It clearly has not been a consideration for you and your colleagues. If it had been, financial wellbeing would have been a clear and critical area of concern.

If you had reviewed this area of wellbeing, you would be aware that a significant number of police officers have had to visit foodbanks in the last year. This is totally unacceptable. You say that the public sector was largely shielded from the effects of COVID-19. Nonsense, absolute nonsense. This is a perfect example of ‘turning a blind eye’. Police officers not only have partners who work in the private sector and have lost jobs or been adversely affected financially, but they have been propping up an unprecedented pandemic response that has been questionable to say the least. Your decision to punish these officers with no pay rise, places them in an even more vulnerable position.

We have taken the brunt of public anger and reaction because of this government’s inability to be clear or consistent. From violent protests to trying to enforce legislation that, at times, made little or no sense. Police officers regularly attacked due to public frustration at your rules, at your requests. Officers spat at by ‘infected’ people. Officers seriously assaulted at protests against your rules. Yet when these officers defend themselves and the public and footage then appears on social media, MP’s are quick to vilify us in order to score points with their electorate. Police officers are human too and not resistant to the contempt we are shown by this government.

We have had no choice but to remain on the front line and carry out our duties in the face of a pandemic that has taken and threatens to take even more lives. Police officers putting not only themselves at risk, but their families too. Police officers unable to return home, having to stay in sheltered accommodation in order to protect at risk loved ones at home. The sacrifices have been many and continue to this day.

You push and push, and you expect more and more for less. You want policing done on the cheap. Well Home Secretary, this is a wheel that cannot keep turning. Whether you consider it to be or not, I can categorically inform you that Wellbeing is a priority in Policing and your pay decision is detrimental to that very critical area. You are breaking police officers. You are demoralising police officers and the consequences will be significant. Much of policing is done on good will, but good will wanes when you are not supported or rewarded with what you deserve. You can’t keep taking without giving and without the Police, society comes crashing down.

You should be aware that mental ill health in policing is at levels never seen before. Research shows that 1 in 5 police officers will suffer from PTSD or Complex PTSD. In a lifetime a member of the public may only encounter 4 or 5 traumatic incidents. Throughout a career a police officer will encounter on average approximately 500 traumatic incidents. So when you talk about ensuring fairness between the public and private sectors in your statement, your assumption is at odds with reality. A blanket comparison cannot be made because, let me remind you, policing is a job like no other.

Assaults on police officers are at unprecedented levels. Only today, two officers in the West Midlands were slashed while on patrol. Attacked for simply doing their job and sadly this is not unique, it is becoming the norm. Attacked whilst you deliver the news to them that they are not worthy of a pay increase. No other job involves you going to work and being regularly assaulted. There is no comparable, yet you continue to try and compare us to other areas of industry and employment. In fact, you don’t. You treat us much worse and with utter contempt and disrespect compared to other areas of industry and employment.

My name is Dan Lever, a sergeant and proud police officer from Cheshire Constabulary. I have given 20 years of my life to policing and for the first time in my career I’m questioning why – a thought that I’m sure is echoed by many of my colleagues across England and Wales.

I implore you to reconsider the decision to award police officers with no pay increase.