Priti Patel told it is 'not too late' to U-turn on police pay freeze

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been told it is “not too late” for her to win back the trust of police by U-turning on the decision to freeze officers’ pay.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said on Thursday that it no longer has confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel

The Police Federation of England and Wales said on Thursday that it no longer has confidence in Ms Patel, branding the bitterly-opposed pay freeze for officers earning more than £24,000 the final straw.

Labour has called on the Cabinet minister to “consider her position” following what the party called a real-terms pay cut, with one chief constable labelling the decision “an insult”.

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But national federation chairman John Apter said there is still time for the Home Secretary to regain the support of the 130,000 rank-and-file officers his organisation represents by increasing their wages.

“We feel bitterly let down, betrayed, and this isn’t just about the pay announcement that was, as you say, the final straw," he told LBC.

“This goes back to the vaccination programme. Let’s look at the way that we were vilified and then hung out to dry during the pandemic, with the Home Secretary saying nice things and not following it up.

“It’s not too late to do what the Health Secretary did, which is do a U-turn and make the announcement for the NHS staff.”

Pay freezes were announced this week for the majority of public sector workers, including for police and teachers, but NHS staff will get a 3 per cent rise, which is to be paid out of existing health budgets, the Government confirmed.

There remains palpable anger among police chiefs at the decision not to reward frontline officers who have had a tough 16 months implementing “confusing” coronavirus rules.

Steve Kent, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, said officers are "absolutely livid" about the pay freeze and have described it as a "kick in the teeth".

He added: "For the first time in a while, I'm getting a lot of contact from some of our experienced officers who have been in the job for a long time and are saying 'I can't cope with this anymore and this is almost the last straw'."

Among the force chiefs to publicly criticise the lack of pay incentive was chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington, who is head of Essex Police, which covers Ms Patel’s Witham constituency.

Mr Harrington described the move as “disappointing” and said that, while he understood there were financial pressures, “we must ensure our people get what they deserve”.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has called for Ms Patel to “change course” following “overwhelming pressure” from senior force leaders to back down over the “disastrous” pay review.