The Police Federation of England and Wales says it no longer has confidence in the home secretary Priti Patel after branding a bitterly-opposed pay freeze for officers as “the final straw”.
Labour claimed Mr Patel’s position was “untenable” following the unprecedented move by the body representing rank-and-file officers – saying it was clear they had “lost faith” in the home secretary.
Ms Patel had confirmed that police officers earning more than £24,000 would be hit by the freeze, while those earning less will be given an annual rise of £250.
Responding to the freeze, the Police Federation said its National Council had “overwhelmingly supported” a vote of no confidence in Ms Patel at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday.
The body’s national chairman John Apter said: “As the organisation that represents more than 130,000 police officers I can say quite categorically – we have no confidence in the current home secretary. I cannot look my colleagues in the eye and do nothing.”
The unprecedented no-confidence vote – never taken before by the Police Federation – also sees the body withdraw all support for the government’s pay review group.
The organisation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it would no longer co-operate with the Police Remuneration Review Body, describing the current system for deciding on pay as “not fit for purpose”.
Labour said the no-confidence motion was a “devastating blow” for the “hapless” home secretary.
Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, the shadow home secretary, has written to Ms Patel to say her position is untenable – and urged the prime minister to step in to re-open negotiations on a police pay rise.
The Labour MP said: “The truth is, Priti Patel has badly let down police officers, who have served our country so bravely throughout this pandemic.”
The MP added: “A zero per cent pay offer is completely unacceptable – it is a real terms pay cut, exposing the hypocrisy of a Conservative government that gives warm words of praise to the police and refuses to back it up with action.
“This has driven the Police Federation to take the extraordinary step of declaring no confidence in the home secretary – which is a view Labour fully supports.”
Mr Apter said members were “so angry” with this government over the pay freeze. “They have been on the frontline of this pandemic for 18 months and will now see other public services given pay increases while they receive nothing.”
He added: “At the beginning of this pandemic they endured PPE shortages and were not even prioritised for the vaccination. They continue to be politicised and this pay announcement is the final straw.”
Announcing the pay freeze in a written ministerial statement on Wednesday, Ms Patel said: “This is in order to ensure fairness between public and private sector wage growth.
The home secretary claimed the private sector “was significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic … whilst the public sector was largely shielded from these effects”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has demonstrated her commitment time and time again to supporting the brave police officers who keep us safe, giving them the resources and powers they need to fight crime and protect the public.
“We are recruiting 20,000 extra officers, 8,771 already in place, increased taxpayer funding for policing by up to £600m and gave forces £200m to meet unforeseen costs of the pandemic.”
The Home Office added: “The economy has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, with pressures on public finances and we must protect jobs and ensure fairness.”
It comes as school leaders have described the confirmation of a pay freeze for teachers – announced by education secretary Gavin Williamson – as an insulting “slap in the face”.
The government has also been condemned for telling the NHS it has to find £1.5bn of savings from within existing budgets to fund the 3 per cent pay rise announced on Wednesday.