More cash for cops
It's not often, so it seems, that you get good news stories these days. In fact, it's not often I am heartened by a news bulletin in this day and age.
However, Monday's news that police officers are to receive a much needed pay rise of 2.5% did please me.
The policing environment is demanding and challenging. Police officers at all ranks undertake important, difficult, complex and sometimes dangerous work - so it's right that they receive a rise which not only reflects this but which hopefully reflects the esteem the government should hold them in. They keep people and this country safe.
I also welcome this pay increase because it helps make and keeps Wiltshire the high achieving Force that it is. Although attracting recruits to Wiltshire Police has never been healthier, it helps to have a pay scale which not only attracts but retains the best calibre of people this Force deserves. We have always been a small Force which punches above its weight and this is down to the excellent, professional officers and staff who make up Wiltshire Police.
And mentioning staff, let's not forget that half of the Force is made up of civilian members who don't feature in this pay hike announcement.
It's unfair to miss out these people who also carry out crucial roles; many have frontline jobs and deliver crucial services.
The issue of parity for police staff is being negotiated nationally at the Police Staff Council - hopefully it continues to look at the same offer for staff as police officers. I am strongly in favour of our staff receiving the same increase as their officer colleagues.
But now the but! I have to exercise some caution - the government cannot expect us to keep paying for these justified increases out of an already very lean budget.
For anyone who reads these blogs or any of my media coverage regularly, you will know I am constantly lobbying the powers that be at Westminster for more funding for our Force - we are one of the least funded Constabularies in the country but are expected to do the same as larger, more urban services.
This is more pertinent than ever as we will be expected to pick up the wage bill for this increase; this will add even more pressure on our finances as well as on our officers and staff who will be required to do more with less money.
Our leaders expect, in fact demand, that our officers and staff keep Wiltshire and Swindon safe from an increased range of threats in this modern world of ours. But those in power need to understand that they need to pay for those dedicated professionals.
I want to see both officers and staff rewarded - officers are at long last being recognised for their hard work but it's now time for the government to put its hand in its pocket to pay for those officers and staff members.
And I mean its own pocket - so we, as a Force, can get the right level of central funding to help pay for these wage increases so we're not made even worse off than we currently are.
Published Wednesday 24 July 2019.