Police pay wrangle 'has hit morale'

Police chief Ian McPherson yesterday admitted the county's rank and file are "very disappointed" with the government's decision to pick a fight over pay.

Police chief Ian McPherson yesterday admitted the county's rank and file are "very disappointed" with the government's decision to pick a fight over pay.

The chief constable of Norfolk refused to criticise the Home Office over its decision not to backdate a 2.5pc pay rise, as recommended by an arbitration panel.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith has come under fire from frontline officers who are preparing for a ballot on whether to seek the right to strike following an emergency meeting of the Police Federation.

Mr McPherson said: "The home secretary is perfectly entitled to make her decision and we are currently in negotiations with her over police funding.


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"It is true to say this has had a negative impact on morale and the attitudes of officers. They feel it is a punitive settlement and that is to be regretted."

There was growing unrest among police forces nationally as Britain's most senior policeman joined the condemnation of the decision. Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair said the service should offer major reforms of officers' salary structures in return for the U-turn.

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Prime minister Gordon Brown has refused to back down, insisting the move is a crucial element in keeping down inflation to ensure the economy remains stable.

But Sir Ian called on the government to think again - and on the Federation to consider negotiating an agreement over "the balance of productivity against pay".

He said: "I am very disappointed with the government's decision. I don't understand why this particular fight has been picked. I do not think we need to be in this position.

"I disassociate myself from requests for the home secretary to resign - I think she is a very good home secretary - but I think this is a mistake and I told her that and I told her predecessor that. Not enough notice has been taken of the special nature of policing, in the sense that police officers don't have the right to strike."

Meanwhile, at least two chief constables have refused to publish a Christmas message sent to all forces by the home secretary. Chiefs in Essex and Cambridgeshire took a stand against Jacqui Smith, saying passing on her message was inappropriate in light of the pay wrangle.

However, Mr McPherson said he would not be taking similar steps in Norfolk and the message has been published on the force's internal website.

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