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Government pay decision: 'a slap in the face for police officers'

The Government's decision not to lift the public sector pay cap is a slap in the face for police officers, according to the leader of Leicestershire Police Federation.

Tiff Lynch has spoken out after Labour's proposed amendment to the Queen's Speech, which would have scrapped the current one per cent cap on public sector pay rises, was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons last night.

"Prime Minister Theresa May claimed after the General Election that she had listened to the public and we have since heard many of her colleagues talking about an end to austerity measures," says Tiff.

"Yet the failure to back this amendment and turn those words into actions, just felt like a slap in a face for police officers and other public sector workers. To add insult to injury, it was made worse by some MPs acting like a pack of heckling hyenas and cheering as the amendment was defeated.

"We have heard much praise for police officers and other emergency workers responding to the dreadful atrocities of the last few months but those words are hollow if nothing is put in place to ease the pressures the police service and those other vital services are currently facing.

"Police officers are continually running towards danger as others run away, they are fighting and preventing crime, keeping order and protecting the vulnerable while at the same time they are being increasingly assaulted by the public they serve, struggling to cope with their own stress and mental health issues and, in some cases, finding it difficult to make ends meet as their pay fails to keep pace with increases in the cost of living."

Tiff added: "The Government says it does not have the money to give officers a meaningful pay rise or increase police funding which would enable forces to increase officer numbers and yet it managed to shake the money tree very successfully when it needed to find 1 billion to secure support from the DUP.

"We have repeatedly been told we can do more with less, in effect, but when the Government found itself with fewer MPs than it expected after the election it was able to throw 1 billion into the pot to bolster its own numbers. Let's also not forget that while public sector workers were told the Government could only afford to give them a maximum pay rise of one per cent MPs themselves received a 10 per cent pay rise."

The proposed amendment was defeated by 323 votes to 309 - with the DUP joining forces with the Conservatives to defeat Labour MPs.

Tiff has also expressed her frustration with Leicestershire MPs for failing to get behind the Force for the benefit of the communities it serves.

Earlier this year, the Federation chairman wrote to all the county's MPs and urged them to meet her to discuss the difficulties faced by the Force but she was disappointed that only three took up her invitation.

Tiff explained: "I wanted to highlight the issues we are facing. Chief officers are having to make really tough decisions as they try to match resources - namely police officers and police staff - with demand. As officer numbers have fallen, we have seen no corresponding decline in demand and, in fact, we are seeing the opposite.

"As we try to tackle more traditional crimes, such as burglaries and violent crime, we are also seeing an upsurge in cyber-crime, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and, of course, terrorism.

"I would expect our MPs to get behind the Force and voice their support for police officers. They were pretty much silent in the debate yesterday and I am disappointed that they are failing to properly engage with the Federation. They should be concerned for the safety of the communities they serve and should be speaking with us so they can understand the difficulties the Force and individual officers are facing."

Tiff is now planning to write to all the Leicestershire MPs again and wants to meet them all face to face in the coming weeks.

She hopes that some may follow the lead of Halifax MP Holly Lynch who has been championing the Federation's Protect The Protectors campaign on officer assaults but who also spoke out on officer pay in Parliament last night.

The MP told her colleagues: "Over the past few weeks, with the terrorist atrocities in London and Manchester and the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we have seen the emergency services at their very best. It is a workforce of which we as parliamentarians, and as a country, can be incredibly proud, but it is a workforce that is tired and that we have let down.

"The emergency service workers whom I know and whom I have spent time shadowing are pragmatic, and know just how vital their work is, so they get on with the job. However, there are fewer of them than ever before; they are asked to work harder and are stretched thinner, and as a result of the public sector pay cap they are paid less than they should be.

"It is surely time that we ended the public sector pay cap, which is demoralising our emergency services. The starting salary for a police constable is 19,700 in some forces, and 22,000 for a firefighter. The weight of the work that we ask them to undertake, and the risks that go with it, are not, I am afraid, reflected in their pay."

Tiff added: "Holly Lynch has been out on patrol with police officers in her constituency; she knows what it's like to be on the front-line. I would love to hear our Leicestershire MPs getting behind officers in the same way."