Rank-and-File Police Officers Express Overwhelming Support for Vote of No Confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), which represents approximately 130,000 officers, has made a scathing announcement denouncing the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the government. The announcement follows Wednesday’s confirmation that officers who earn £24,000 or more will receive a pay freeze in 2021-22. The PFEW’s national chair, John Apter, has stated that the organisation has “no confidence” in Patel and that “warm words are no longer enough.” The shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, has further called Patel’s position “untenable” following the vote of no confidence.
A Pledge for Increased Policing Powers and Officer Recruitment Fails to Impress
Patel has attempted to portray herself as a champion of the police, with her 2019 Conservative party conference speech declaring that the party had regained “their rightful place as the party of law and order in Britain once again.” She pledged to give the police the necessary powers to combat crime. Similarly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to recruit 20,000 police officers, expand stop and search powers, and increase sentences for assaulting police officers during the last general election. However, after the government announced the pay freeze, the Police Federation convened an extraordinary meeting of its national council, where a vote of no confidence in Patel was carried.
Lack of Government Support for Police Forces Frustrates Rank-and-File Officers
The Police Federation has withdrawn its support for the Police Remuneration Review Body process for police officer pay and has supported a vote of no confidence in Patel. The federation stated that the pay freeze amounts to a real-terms pay cut for police officers and that, with inflation predicted to increase to nearly 4% later this year, the situation has become intolerable. Apter expressed anger on behalf of the federation’s members, who have worked on the pandemic’s front lines for 18 months and have received no pay increases while other public services have. He further stated that, at the start of the pandemic, officers suffered from personal protective equipment shortages and were not prioritised for vaccinations. The federation feels that police officers continue to be politicised, and the pay announcement was the final straw.
The PFEW has overwhelmingly supported a vote of no confidence in the current home secretary, Priti Patel. Despite the Conservative party’s promises of increased policing powers and recruitment, the lack of government support for police forces, culminating in the pay freeze announcement, has frustrated rank-and-file police officers. The federation has withdrawn its support for the Police Remuneration Review Body process for police officer pay and called for urgent action from the government. The police officers’ contributions during the pandemic have gone unrewarded, leading to an intolerable situation that the government must rectify.