A pay award for police officers has been branded ‘insulting’ by the chair of Sussex Police Federation.
The rank and file are set to receive a two per cent increase in 2017/18, according to an announcement made by the Home Secretary earlier this month.
However half of this is a one-year bonus, and will have to be funded from existing budgets.
In an open letter sent to Prime Minister Theresa May, police federations across England and Wales including in Sussex described how forces could not cope with any further falls in police numbers and it was a ‘disgrace’ to dress the ‘insulting’ award as a pay rise.
The letter describes how many police officers are ‘unable to cope with the mental and physical demands placed upon them by having to work in depleted environments’.
Matt Webb, chair of Sussex Police Federation, said: “Our members are angry and forces have been put in an impossible situation.
“We feel the Government has not been truthful and honest about the pay award given to officers, and that is insulting to our members and the wider public.
“The two per cent awarded, half of which only lasts for a year, has to come from existing policing budgets which means forces may have to choose between officer numbers and public safety. That cannot be right.”
The letter claims the Government has failed in a number of areas and demands answers on a range of issues, asking for more information on crime figures, police numbers, and claims of ‘extra’ officers.
Mr Webb added: “We don’t want meaningless platitudes, we want a properly funded and well-resourced police service.
“The public rightly want and expect this, which is why we have called for answers.”
Katy Bourne, Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said the Government announcement ‘goes some way to acknowledge the selfless dedication of police officers and the long period of pay restraint they have worked through’.
She added: “Whilst the pay award is modest, it does have implications for our already squeezed police budgets.
“Based on current assumptions in our medium term financial strategy, Sussex Police will still have to save £26 million over the next four years.
“That is why I - and other PCCs - have been negotiating with Government for enhanced core police grant funding, as well as asking for the removal of the current cap on the police precept element of council tax.
“The people of Sussex and our officers and staff deserve more certainty about the funding of policing so I am currently undertaking a comprehensive review of funding held in our reserves.
“This could release resources to continue investment in critical areas such as public protection and counter-terrorism capability and also to help to soften the impact of long term reductions in local policing numbers.
“As all areas of the public sector make savings and efficiencies, police have had to increasingly fill the void left behind. Around 40 per cent of calls to police are not police matters- this strain on resources also puts additional physical and mental strain on individual officers.
“I want to reassure Sussex officers and staff that I don’t see today’s announcement as the complete picture on police funding and we will have to wait for the provisional police settlement in December to see how successful we have been in securing more investment.”
Announcing the pay award, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The tireless work and contribution of police officers in responding to some of the most challenging situations our country has faced for a very long time has been extraordinary.
“This award strikes a fair balance for police forces, officers and taxpayers. We want to reward and attract the very best police officers within the resources we have, whilst making the right decisions for the economy overall.”