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Police officers to withdraw ‘goodwill’ in pay row

Police Scotland officers are taking the most disruptive action in more than 100 years (Jane Barlow/PA)
Police Scotland officers are taking the most disruptive action in more than 100 years (Jane Barlow/PA)

Police officers in Scotland are to take the most disruptive action in more than 100 years by withdrawing their “goodwill” amid an ongoing pay dispute.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents officers, said the action will start at 5pm on Friday.

While officers in Scotland are prohibited by law from taking industrial action, withdrawing goodwill will show “significant discontent,” Mr Steele said.

The action means officers will not start their shifts early or take radio equipment home when their duty ends.

The union’s governing body – the Joint Central Committee (JCC) – had previously rejected a “derisory” offer of a £564 pay increase.

The measures are expected to be the first in a series of protests over the pay offer.

Officers have also been advised to ask for their previous contact numbers to be deleted from the Police Service records.

In a letter to Police Scotland 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.”

Officers will start and end their working day at the time of their rostered tour of duty “unless expressly directed or authorised to the contrary”, he said.

And they will refrain from taking items of police personal protective equipment home with them, regardless of where they are expected to work the next day.

Officers will also not take any “ancillary items” such as radios or personal data appliances home with them.

Mr Steele added: “I need to be clear that the formal withdrawal of goodwill is not an action the JCC has endorsed lightly.

“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.”

He added that there is a “willingness” to negotiate a fair pay settlement and members “remain open to meaningful dialogue”.

In a letter to members, Mr Steele said: “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.”

Where overtime is worked, officers have been instructed to claim remuneration.

Scottish Conservatives justice spokesman Jamie Greene said the action shows that 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,” he said.

“It’s no wonder that frontline officers feel compelled to act when the SNP Government have offered them a derisory pay offer and handed them a real-terms budget cut of over £100 million.”

He added that hard-working officers “deserve better”.

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.”

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.”