Scotland's police officers to 'withdraw goodwill' as pay dispute escalates

Scotland’s police officers will not start shifts early or take police radios home with them as they embark on their most disruptive action in 100 years in a dispute over pay.

The Scottish Police Federation, which represents frontline officers, said “all goodwill” will be withdrawn from 5pm on Friday.

It said officers had been treated with “utter contempt”.

The SPF previously rejected a pay increase of £565 for Scottish police officers, which its general secretary Calum Steele said amounted to a 2 per cent rise for most members and 1 per cent for its higher-earning members.

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Picture: John DevlinPicture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

He criticised the Scottish Police Authority, Police Scotland and Scottish ministers for failing to get round the negotiating table.

Police officers are prohibited by law from taking industrial action or withdrawing their labour.

But Mr Steele has insisted there are other measures officers can take.

The latest move means police officers will not start their shifts early and will conclude their tours of duty at the allocated time.

The SPF added: “Police officers will not take any items of police personal protective equipment home with them at the end of their tours of duty, regardless of where they are expected to commence their next tour of duty.”

It also said officers will not take “any ancillary items of police equipment, for example airwave radios or personal data appliances, home with them at the end of their tour of duty.”

In a letter to Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, Mr Steele said: "Further actions to safeguard our members health and safety, and to mitigate the effects of the cost of living crisis on them will follow over subsequent weeks.”

He added: “I need to be clear that the formal withdrawal of good-will is not an action the JCC [joint central committee of the SPF] has endorsed lightly.

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"It is nonetheless a manifestation of the strength of feeling of our members of the utter contempt this pay offer represents to them.

"It will not be lost on you that this is the most significant discontent in the police service since the 1970s, and the most overt demonstration of action by our members in over 100 years.”

In a letter to members, Mr Steele stressed it is “vitally important that all of our members stand shoulder to shoulder in support of this action”.

He said: “Should you encounter any hostility in respect of your actions you should make these known to your local federation office ASAP.”

He added: “The purpose of this action is categorically not to frustrate any investigation, or further aggravate any victim’s experience.

"It is simply to demonstrate to our employers just how much discretionary effort, and free policing hours, they ordinarily take for granted.

“I appreciate many of the actions laid out in the letter to the Chief Constable will feel alien to you.

"It is however essential that in order to persuade our ‘employers’ to return to the negotiating table with a fair pay offer, that we use all lawful methods to demonstrate our anger and dissatisfaction with what is on offer.”

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The letter makes clear officers “may not refuse a lawful order”.

It added: “For example, an officer may be ordered to report for duty before their rostered tour of duty is due to begin.

"Where this occurs, overtime is payable and should be claimed.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene said: “This further action announced by the Scottish Police Federation highlights that relations between the SNP Government and police officers have hit rock bottom.

“These measures may seem limited but given that officers cannot legally go on strike, this is a powerful indication of how furious the police are with the SNP Government, who are shamefully trying to take advantage of their limited industrial-action rights.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We recognise the considerable goodwill officers bring to their roles on a daily basis as they keep people safe across the country, and this is also valued by the communities they serve.

“We therefore remain committed, through the Police Negotiating Board, to seeking a settlement.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Police Authority said: “We remain committed to working with the staff side through the Police Negotiating Board to reach an agreement on pay for 2022/23.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Police officer pay has been negotiated for many years through the Police Negotiating Board (PNB), which includes police officer staff associations, the Scottish Police Authority, Police Scotland, and the Scottish Government.

“The PNB process is ongoing in relation to pay for 2022/23, and we await the outcome of those discussions.”