Police Pay

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:36 pm on 9th January 2008.

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Photo of John Leech John Leech Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:36 pm, 9th January 2008

I congratulate John McDonnell on securing the debate, not least because I applied for a debate on the same subject. Having been unsuccessful in securing it, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the issue.

I pay tribute to, and thank, Alan Cooper, the chief superintendent from south Manchester, who has just moved to a new job. He has shown real commitment to south Manchester and will be sorely missed in our community. However, I wonder whether someone of his calibre would have chosen not to remain in the police force if he had been faced with last year's debacle some years ago. Would he have gone down another path of employment if he had felt, earlier in his career, that he was not valued? How many more Alan Coopers will we lose in the coming months and years as a result of the breakdown in morale among the police?

Everyone knows what a tough job the police face every day. They receive little credit when things go right and are roundly criticised when things go wrong. They are effectively never off duty and face restrictions on where they can live. In Greater Manchester, we have experienced cuts in police officer numbers, even though Labour Governments have increased the number of offences since 1997 by more than 3,000, thus giving the police more work to do. For the job that they are asked to do, they are not well paid; indeed, they are poorly paid.

Before Christmas, I was invited to a meeting of the Greater Manchester branch of the Police Federation at which members were invited to question a panel that included the chief constable, Michael Todd, and the chair of the police authority, Councillor Paul Murphy. Given concern at the time about the impending pay review by the independent arbitration panel, I expected police pay to be the No. 1 issue, but it was not—it was the last issue on people's minds. Serving police officers were more concerned about policing the streets of Greater Manchester than about their salaries. The big issues raised that evening were the future of the dog-handling service in Greater Manchester and concerns about the Government's drive to replace police officers with police community support officers.

The police are committed and dedicated to their jobs. They have agreed to be bound by independent arbitration, and the Home Secretary's decision not to honour the agreement is a kick in the teeth for every serving police officer. Will the Minister explain what the point of independent arbitration is if the Home Secretary does not abide by its decision? Will he also give us his opinion on the question of why the Government believe that the police are not worth their pay rise? When I met union representatives from the Greater Manchester branch of the Police Federation, with my Liberal Democrat colleagues from Greater Manchester, they made clear the impact of the situation on the morale of serving police officers, and said that more and more officers were considering leaving the service. They pointed out that Greater Manchester police could afford to pay the full increase proposed by the independent arbitration panel, as it had been budgeted for in the GMP budget. They also highlighted the fact that civilian staff and community support officers will receive a bigger percentage increase than police officers as a result of the Home Secretary's actions. Perhaps the Minister can tell us if that is fair. The Labour Government should be ashamed of the way in which they are treating our police, who deserve better.

Annotations

David Cropper
Posted on 12 Jan 2008 11:59 pm (Report this annotation)

Pay rise - yes, but for ALL and at the RPI rate currently around 4%, not the CPI rate which is currently somewhere around 2 - 2.5%. Ask the Government why it increases senior citizens pensions at the RPI rate and Private Pension Plans (annuities) are increased at the RPI rate! The RPI is more reflective of our household outgoings - and I understand even this does NOT include Council Tax hikes!