Ladies and gentlemen you have been treated to a display of Smoke and Mirrors the likes of which is seldom seen in civilised society. The Aurora Borealis is a poor second cousin, it is an illusion that David Copperfield or Penn and Teller would be immensely proud of, and rightly so.
We have lived through a week when the illusions were so polished you might even think some people were actually lying, perish the thought.
First under the floodlights in the ring at Cruella’s Grand Illusion was the government announcement that the Public Sector Pay Cap was being lifted for Police and Prison Officers. Hardly divisive at all.. A variey of Sorceror’s Apprentices queued up or were wheeled out to try out the latest mantra.
We have accepted the recommendations of the Police Remuneration Review Body in full.
To me, this says that the PRRB have made some recommendations and that the govt have accepted and will be implementing them.
The government pay offer to the Police was this
- a 1% increase to base pay for all ranks
- an additional one-off non-consolidated payment to officers at federated and superintending ranks
- a 1% increase to the London Weighting payment
- a 1% increase to the Dog Handlers’ Allowance
So that must have been what the PRRB recommended right? Well, let’s take a look
The additional (1%) non-consolidated ‘bonus’ has proved to be quite controversial. Government has decreed that it must be paid from existing (reduced, stretched, unsustainable)!Police Budgets. Many Chief Constables and PCCs have already warned that this could mean the loss of even more Police Officers in order to pay for it.
We didn’t realise it at the time but this was just the beginning of a cynical subterfuge by government. It was about to get worse.
Enter into the ring the grand illusionist, Cruella the Magnificent.
Despite seven years of pay rises at 1% or less, she claimed a new police officer in 2010 would have actually gained £9,000 once progression pay and the rise in the income tax personal allowance was factored in. So even once inflation, now at 2.9%, was factored in, the rise in real-terms take-home pay was still worth 32%, she boldly claimed.
Unfortunately if a Prime Minister says something many will accept it as a fact, after all politicians don’t lie do they? The Police Federation went so far as to accuse her of telling an outright lie.
Mrs May’s ludicrous, and highly selective, claim only just holds true for a hypothetical Constable joining in 2010 and making normal progression with increased seniority, nothing to do with pay rises in the traditional sense. A full explanation can be read here.
Just when things were beginning to settle down, the smoke was thinning and drifting away, we suffered our 5th terrorist attack of 2017. Fortunately nobody was killed or very seriously injured but it could easily have been very much worse.
In a period of rising crime, increasing terrorist activity and who-knows-what other, increasing, demands on the Police Service Prime Minister, Theresa May, is recklessly continuing with her agenda of Police Reform and slashing the numbers that do not matter. 20,000 fewer Police Officers than there were in 2010. What does that really look like?
I’ve used this graphic before, but I like it. I think it shows the loss of 20,000 Police Officers brilliantly. If you imagine the areas of England and Wales shaded pink, that’s what 20,000 fewer officers looks like. Not one single Police Officer in any of the pink areas, not one. Does anybody outside Conservative HQ really think that is a good idea, or sustainable in the face of the threats we now encounter?
So, as we now have 20,000 fewer, like it not, it’s the reality, we were told after Friday’s latest terrorist attack that “extra”armed Police would be patrolling the streets, the Threat Level has been raised to Critical, and extra officers generally would be on duty, assisted by armed soldiers where appropriate.
Let us be very clear. There are NO extra Armed Police Officers. There are NO extra Police Officers available of any kind. We cannot just open another box of Police Officers and deploy them. Mrs May and her policies have emptied all the boxes. So where are all these “extra” officers coming from then?
The answer is incredibly simple. They are the very same officers that have always been there. They will be working longer shifts, they will be working on what should be their Rest Days, but have been cancelled. They may even be working on what should have been their Annual Leave but it may have been cancelled in extreme circumstances.
The only officers that could conceivably be described as ‘extra’ are those from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police. They are not really extra, they’re always there, they’re just not counted in the 43 Constabularies, and their numbers are really quite small. Mrs May’s 20,000 will, inevitably, have included some Armed officers. I don’t know the exact numbers but there are fewer armed officers now than 7 years. Surely there should be more?
Oh well that’s alright then, everything is covered.
No it isn’t. The consequences of the 20,000 shortfall and May’s policies doesn’t stop here.
Those officers will rapidly suffer ‘burn out’. They cannot be expected to work 12-16 hour shifts, work their days off and still be as bright as a button, it doesn’t work like that. They will be tired, possibly grumpy, their reactions and judgement will not be at their optimum. I have already seen officers claiming that all Rest Days have been cancelled in London this weekend. This could have been avoided if not for May’s policies.
The officers will be incurring overtime. They have the option of taking Time Off in Lieu or being paid for it. Time Off in Lieu just creates a problem further down the line, either there will be a shortage of officers available on some date in the future as officers begin to take the time they are owed, or they will find themselves unable to take Time Off that they are rightfully owed, further adding to their stress and fatigue. Or they could opt to be paid for their overtime, only we are constantly being told that there is no money. Police Stations are being closed and sold off, numbers of Poli e Dogs and Horses are being reduced in an attempt to save money. 20,000 officers have disappeared. Yet we still think officers can be paid for their overtime.
I can only assume that Theresa May must be incredibly proud of her achievements as she shows no sign of admitting that she was wrong or attempting to rectify the situation. I have never before heard a Prime Minister sound quite so insincere when she speaks.
Mrs May and a small number of collaborators will soon have completed the destruction of Policing as we know it in this country. All behind a display of Smoke and Mirrors, the like of which we very seldom see.
Finally, whilst this post has concentrated on the Police, I wish to make it crystal clear that I support ALL of our Public Sector and that they should ALL get a fair deal from the government, although I am not holding my breath on that one.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Tories, Masters of Illusion.