Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Short-Changing the Police

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Short-Changing the Police

Article excerpt

THERE ARE many reasons why the Home Secretary,JacquiSmith,mightwanttotakeonthe police, ranging from outmoded working practices to inadequate detectionrates, but a quibble over the timing of a pay settlement is not one of them. Atissue is her decision not to backdate to April a 2.5 per cent pay dealrecommended by an independent tribunal, effectively reducing the award to 1.9per cent. Adjusting the timing in this way saves [pounds sterling]30 million, enough to pay for800 officers. But it contrasts sharplywiththesettlementinScotland,where backdating will ensure officers receive the full 2.5 per cent.

The response of police in England has been to call anemergencymeetingof staff associationsin London today, amid talk of a ballot on whether to press for the right tostrike, which the force currently lacks. There have been unofficial threats,too, of limited industrial action, such as a mass call in sickday, though police leaders have distanced themselves from these.

Feelings are clearly running high, and while this newspaper believes there ismuch in the police service that needs reform, chipping away at the detail of apay deal is no way to go about it. The Prime Minister is rightly anxious to seerestraint in public-servicepaysettlements.Itmaybethathis determination to press ahead over the backdating decision is his way oftrying to reimpose authority after a shaky couple of months in which theelection that never was, rows over immigration figures and early release ofprisoners, and resignations overconcealed donations have knocked Labour back in the polls.

But the contrast with the police pay deal in Scotland makes this the wrongissue on which to pick a fight. Ms Smith and Gordon Brown should listen to thevery real sense of betrayal among Englands police officers and let them havetheir pay rise on time.

City giving LONDON is home to some of the biggest and most profitablefinancialinstitutionsintheworld,a momentscabridefrompartsof Hackneyand Tower Hamlets, where joblessness and ill-health are rife. …

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