The Government’s refusal to grant a 3% police pay award is a “punch on the nose”, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.
Speaking at the Police Superintendents’ Association Annual Conference on Tuesday, Ms Dick said she was “extremely disappointed” with the decision to instead impose the 2% consolidating award.
She asserted that she did not want the Government to “wait until we are struggling like the prison service with chronic under-staffing” in her speech at the Leicester Marriott Hotel.
Speaking at the conference in Leicester, Ms Dick said: “Earlier this year, the Met made the case for a 3% award.
“Our arguments, details and supporting evidence were accepted by the Independent Pay Review Body (PRB) and we presented it to the Government.
“I fully respect the Government’s right to make the decision – but on this occasion, the Government chose to ignore the recommendations of the review body and chose instead … to impose the 2% consolidating award.”
The Met Police chief continued: “That feels like 1% to our officers and I am extremely disappointed by that outcome.
“I understand the Government have to take into account a wide range of factors and we have worked tirelessly with the Home Office and the PRB to build the case for what I believe is fair pay for our officers, and I do regret the decision.
“It is a matter of principle that officers must have confidence in an independent body deciding on their pay.
“It is worth looking at the rhetoric when the Pay Review Body was set up.
“Officers cannot strike and that is quite right – but it is unlike other front line workers … and that in my view puts an obligation on the Government to respect the carefully developed argument and recommendations of the Pay Review Body.”
She added: “This is the second year in a row the Government has rejected the Pay Review Body’s recommendations in favour of a lower award and I think, as you probably have seen, I think this is wrong in principle, because it leaves the PRB process in tatters, undermines the careful balance that protects officers’ rights; wrong in practice, because, in my view, and I appreciate I don’t see the whole view, it flies in the face of evidence and rational argument; and wrong because, although I accept that any final decision is one for the Government, it hasn’t been explained very well yet and we have heard no proposal about how to rebuild confidence.
“I am sorry to say I do think that decision will have affected morale. I don’t want the Government to wait until we are struggling like the prison service with chronic under-staffing.”
Answering questions on pay at the end of her speech, Ms Dick joked: “I’m not going on strike,” and added: “I think we just have to keep talking.”
Ms Dick said: “I’m fortunate because I get chance to see the Home Secretary regularly and the Prime Minister sometimes and I will keep talking.
“I hope I’m a police chief who fully understands and guards like a terrier… This is my job, and that is their job, operational independence and politics, and where we possibly can keep them apart.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful to the political process or the Government, but I do feel disappointed by the decision and I will keep on saying so.”
She added: “Meanwhile I need to think, how can I recruit and how can I retain and how can I make my officers and staff feel that I really value them? Because I feel this is a punch on the nose.”
In response to Commissioner Dick’s comments on the police pay award refusal, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I took it seriously but what I have to do at the same time when it comes to pay recommendations though – you’ll know that pay recommendations across the board for millions of public sector workers, we have to as a government take them all into account – you’re trying to get that balance between affordability, what is recommended and fairness to tax payers.
“This is a reflection of trying to strike that balance and I’m not pretending it’s easy.
“I recognise, and it’s something I recognised early on before I was Home Secretary, that there is a need for more resources.”
Mr Javid added: “There has been an increase in resources in the last three years but I don’t think it’s enough given the challenges, the complexities and the crimes that you are facing.”
Speaking of the upcoming spending review, the Home Secretary then insisted: “I’ve always said quite clearly that my priority, for me, will be policing.”
Opening his speech at the conference, Mr Javid joked about the BBC series The Bodyguard by saying: “Before I say anything else, I know what you’re all thinking… yes I have been watching The Bodyguard.
“I’m not happy with what happened to the Home Secretary in the latest episode – and no, my codename is not ‘Lavender’.”