|This month has seen the beginning of the process to ease lockdown restrictions and, while coronavirus is still very much with us, the vaccination programme is allowing us to begin restoring daily life a little closer to normality. There’s more opportunity to get out and about I’ve been pleased to be able to conduct my first in-person visit to a grant-funded project in well over a year, as well as beginning a tour of our police estate with a trip to Rugby (see below).
Of course, while a majority of us have been working from home or finding our daily routines have been very different over these past 18 months, I am mindful that policing has continued to be a front-facing public service throughout. Officers and PCSOs have continued to be an ever-present on the streets, despite the additional personal risks that Covid-19 has brought.
That’s why I’ve spoken out in support of police officers receiving a pay rise for 2021/22, in recognition of the role they have played throughout the pandemic. In my view, the Government needs to think again about its decision to impose a pay freeze on all but those officers with salaries of less than £24,000.
A letter urging a rethink of that decision and asking for central funding for a pay increase has been sent to the Home Secretary by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, a move I fully endorse.
Here in Warwickshire and across the country police officers have tirelessly continued to keep people safe and protect them from harm throughout the pandemic. Behind the scenes, police staff too have made a huge contribution, ensuring that our call centres and control rooms continue to function and that frontline policing has the services and support it needs to continue to protect the public. They have done this magnificently, overcoming the many challenges this national emergency has provoked.
In these circumstances, I believe a pay increase would be warranted and would receive support from the public, provided that such an increase was properly funded and not left to local Council Tax payers to pick up the tab.
A pay increase for police officers and indeed police staff would do much to boost morale in the workforce, however, it is not something that could be funded from existing force finances. For example, across the remainder of this financial year, a one percent increase on pay would require around £500,000 to be found from existing budgets and this would have an inevitable impact on services to the public.
While undoubtedly the current challenges posed by the pandemic on public sector finances are heavy, policing has already made a huge contribution to improving the national balance sheet over the last decade, including many years of pay restraint for officers and staff.
Across policing we continue to find more efficient and cost-effective ways of working and here in Warwickshire I have been insistent on a setting a balanced budget to ensure we spend only within our means.
I think it is now time for the Government to recognise the outstanding circumstances which have led to this request for a pay increase for all and I hope they engage constructively with police and crime commissioners to make this a reality.