This week’s main new has been the announcement by the Government on the police pay cap. The Home Secretary has confirmed that in light of the recommendations made by the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) and the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB), officers will be awarded an effective two percent pay rise in 2017/18. The rise will comprise of a one percent increase to base pay for all ranks, and an additional one percent bonus in what is effectively a one-off payment intended to relief, or at least lessen, salary pressure on officers. The pay raise will be implemented from 1st September 2017 as follows:
· a one percent increase to base pay for all ranks
· an additional one-off non-consolidated payment to officers at federated and superintending ranks
· a one percent increase to the London Weighting payment
· a one percent increase to the Dog Handlers’ Allowance
The money for the additional payments will come from existing police budgets. Prison officers will also receive a rise. The National Police Chiefs Council said the extra one percent, expected to cost an additional £50m, was not part of a police budget based around the expectation of a one percent maximum rise. Chief Constable Francis Habgood, who leads for the council on pay, said: “Without better real terms funding protection from government, an award above 1% will inevitably impact on our ability to deliver policing services and maintain staffing levels.”
Reaction to the pay rise has been mixed. The Guardian reports that Steve White, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said many of his members would be “angry and deflated” at their pay award following a requested 2.8% rise in basic pay. He added ““Officers have been taking home about 15% less than they were seven years ago.”
Speaking in the House of Commons following the rise, Theresa May claimed that a new police officers starting in 2010 would have seen a 32% pay increase over the last seven years due to progression pay and changes to tax. Responding, the Police Federation’s vice chair Calum Macloed called the claim a “downright lie”. Under questioning from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Prime Minister also refused to rule out further police redundancies.
MDP pay is analogue with the Home Office forces. The pay award comes as a result of mounting pressure on the Government to ease the restrictions on public sector pay rises. However, the bonus is being presented as a one-off: as such, it is not clear if the additional one percent will be carried forward into future years. The pay rise is also still below the current 2.9% rate of inflation.
Examining the PRBR report which fed into the pay recommendations, it is clear from the evidence submitted by stakeholders that many forces are experiencing difficulty in recruiting for specialist positions including firearms officers, although the PRBR did not site this as a reason to remove the cap – instead proposing that local flexibility on pay may be part of the solution.
· New armed police base to be established in London
· Full Defence Select Committee membership announced
· Police and Armed Forces deployed as part of Hurricane Irma relief
· Police Chief warns over ability to deliver ‘professional force’
· Brexit defence policy paper released
· MoD ‘paid £750,000 on legal fees denying responsibility for soldier deaths’
· Humans ‘will always control armed drones’, says MoD
· MDP officer completes World Marathon Majors
New armed police base to be established in London
The Evening Standard reports that a new £50 million base for armed police officers is to be built in central London to help protect the public from terrorism. The new base will house at least 200 officers and contain a practice firing range, weapons storage and other facilities designed to enable the Force’s firearms specialists to hone their shooting and decision making skills. It will be built in Limehouse and is being located in east London partly to make it easier to keep officers on hand to respond to any future terror attacks in the capital.
Disclosing the decision to set up a firearms base in Limehouse, Met Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said the Force needed new sites for its armed officers and had already built a new firearms range at Hendon. He added “The firearms range at Hendon is up, but it’s not just that one. As we redevelop in the east of London we are looking at a similar type of capability at Limehouse. That’s about making sure we can keep those officers trained, accredited, and up to the standards they need to be, and available.”
UK terrorism arrests up 68%
The Daily Telegraph reports that there were 379 arrests for terrorism-related offences in Great Britain in the year ending June 2017, a rate of more than one a day and the highest number in a year since data collection began in 2001. Arrests jumped by 68% year on year, with the increase partly driven by activity mounted amid a flurry of terrorist incidents between 22nd March 22 and 19th June.
The Home Office quarterly bulletin on the police’s use of their counter-terrorism powers says 123 of those arrested were charged – 105 with terrorism offences – and 189 were released without charge. The rest were either bailed pending further investigation or faced alternative action.
Full Defence Select Committee membership announced
The full membership list for the new House of Commons Defence Select Committee has been announced. From this month, it will comprise of:
· Dr Julian Lewis MP (Chairman) – Conservative, New Forest East
· Leo Docherty MP – Conservative, Aldershot
· Martin Docherty-Hughes MP – SNP, West Dunbartonshire
· Mark Francois MP – Conservative, Rayleigh and Wickford
· Graham P Jones MP – Labour, Hyndburn
· Johnny Mercer MP – Conservative, Plymouth, Moor View
· Madeleine Moon MP – Labour, Bridgend
· Gavin Robinson MP – DUP, Belfast East
· Ruth Smeeth MP – Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North
· John Spellar MP – Labour, Warley
· Phil Wilson MP – Labour, Sedgefield
Both Dr Julian Lewis and Madeleine Moon are long-standing Federation supporters, and we will be meeting with Dr Lewis in October to update him on the DPF’s issues and concerns – including the MoD’s plans to reset the MDP officer complement. We will also be approaching other members of the committee to offer briefings.
Police and Armed Forces deployed as part of Hurricane Irma relief
The Evening Standard reports that British police officers have been sent to the British Virgin Islands to help with the recovery effort after the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. The National Police Chiefs’ Council announced UK officers from 14 different forces across the country have joined military personnel already in the Caribbean to help with the relief effort.
The deployment is part of a cross-government effort to bring relief to the region. More than 200 Royal Marines, along with engineers, specialists, medical supplies, and aid, including emergency shelter kits, rations and clean water, have been flown out to the region. The ship RFA Mounts Bay – deployed to the region to provide support during hurricane season – is also providing support. The Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Ocean has also been diverted to the Caribbean.
Brexit defence policy paper released
The Independent reports that the Government has claimed that Britain can only help to keep EU citizens “safe” if Brussels delivers a post-Brexit trade deal – controversially linking the two issues in a new negotiating paper. The document sets out how “open markets and customs arrangements that are as frictionless as possible” are vital for the UK to contribute to ensuring Europe has “the best war-fighting capacity”. The stance comes despite Defence Secretary Michael Fallon insisting the UK is not trying to “blackmail” the EU by using its military as a bargaining chip in the troubled talks.
One section of document the explicitly links defence cooperation with securing a trade deal, risking a backlash in Brussels. On future defence, it reads: “The UK has an important role in continuing this through innovation, research and collaboration. Open markets and customs arrangements that are as frictionless as possible are important to the continued success of this sector and to ensure that British and European Armed Forces can access the best war-fighting capacity to keep us safe.”
Given that the UK will be seeking to maintain influence in Europe though its NATO and wider defence commitments, it seems unlikely that it will make this contingent on a trade deal.
MoD ‘paid £750,000 on legal fees denying responsibility for soldier deaths’
The Guardian reports that the Government spent more than £750,000 on lawyers’ fees trying to deny responsibility for the deaths of soldiers killed in lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers, a freedom of information request has revealed. The MoD was ultimately unsuccessful in supporting its claim that it did not have a duty of care to those killed using the vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The MoD is planning to introduce a compensation scheme that will do away with the need to prove negligence and divert cases away from the courts. It claims that it will produce more generous payments; but the proposal has caused misgivings among service families who have campaigned to reveal flaws in army equipment. The Department is also planning to suspend human rights legislation in future wars.
Humans ‘will always control armed drones’, says MoD
The Guardian reports that Britain’s military will commit to ensuring that drones and other remote weaponry are always under human control, as part of a new doctrine designed to calm concerns about the development of killer robots. The new doctrine will make clear that the UK opposes the development of autonomous weapons systems that could operate without trained controllers and traditional chains of command. It will be in line with similar commitments made by other NATO members.
The UK currently has two squadrons of Reaper drones – currently being expanded – which can be armed, but which are always remotely piloted. Mark Lancaster, the Minister for the Armed Forces, said: “It’s absolutely right that our weapons are operated by real people capable of making incredibly important decisions, and we are guaranteeing that vital oversight.”
MDP officer completes World Marathon Majors
The MoD website reports that MDP Officer Aaron Wilson has completed the World Marathon Majors, running six major city marathons, with another one lined up for October. Aaron, T/Sergeant in Operations, based in Berkshire, has successfully completed marathons in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. He said, “It started in 2008 when my New Year’s resolution was to run a marathon having never run any long distance before”, adding “Going forward I am representing the MDP at the Police Sport UK 10 mile race this month (September) as part of my training for the Frankfurt marathon in October.”
Aaron also thanked Assistant Chief Constable Operations, Paul McLaughlin, for his support and the help of the MDP Sports Fund with entry fees, as well as the support he has received from his wife, family and work colleagues.·