The Police Federation has declared “no confidence” in Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, after branding a pay freeze for officers as “the final straw.”
The federation, which represents 130,000 rank and file officers in England and Wales, will also withdraw its support for the pay review body.
It comes despite previous good relations between the federation and Ms Patel, who has worked hard to raise morale with the 20,000 uplift in officer numbers, a police covenant, increasing police powers, tougher sentences for assaults on officers and extra investment in equipment like tasers.
However, John Apter, the federation’s chair, acknowledged Ms Patel had often praised officers but said they were “so angry” with the Government after 18 months on the frontline of the pandemic.
“At the beginning of this pandemic they endured PPE shortages and were not even prioritised for the vaccination. They continue to be politicised and this pay announcement is the final straw,” said Mr Apter.
The only previous Home Secretary to face such a no confidence declaration in recent times was Jacqui Smith in 2007, again over pay.
A whitehall source said: “”Our heroic NHS workers are rightly getting a three per cent pay rise as a recognition of their extraordinary efforts over the past 18 months.
“The Police Federation’s politicking will fly in the face of those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.”
Patel has confirmed police officers earning more than £24,000 would be hit by the freeze. Those earning less will be given an annual rise of £250.
The row comes as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said the Government’s decision will make many officers feel “undervalued” and would be a “hard pill to swallow”.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary has demonstrated her commitment time and time again to supporting the brave police officers who keep us safe, giving them the resources and powers they need to fight crime and protect the public.
“We are recruiting 20,000 extra officers, 8,771 already in place, increased taxpayer funding for policing by up to £600m and gave forces £200m to meet unforeseen costs of the pandemic. This is in addition to enhancing protection of the police, increasing sentencing for assaulting officers and investment in equipment.
“The economy has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, with pressures on public finances and we must protect jobs and ensure fairness.”