It would be ‘premature’ to speculate what the solutions could be to address concerns about police pay, the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs says.
Jane Poole-Wilson was asked in the House of Keys sitting on Tuesday how she would ensure the concerns raised by the Police Federation Isle of Man officer satisfaction survey are addressed.
The report consulted a total of 144 officers in the Isle of Man, which makes up 62% of the force.
It found that 89% of the police officers surveyed thought that the constabulary didn’t offer good pay and conditions and 80% felt they were unfairly paid for the work they did.
Mrs Poole-Wilson said: ‘I take this issue very seriously and I am keen to find a way to address the concerns which have been raised, but I am also conscious of the fiscal constraints in which we must operate.
‘I recognise the challenges the minister for Treasury is facing with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and I do not wish to add further to these difficulties.’
The matter was raised with the Joint Consultative Council, which is the Department of Home Affairs and the Police Federation.
Following a meeting between the JCC, a working party has been created to address the concerns raised.
Mrs Poole-Wilson says the group will give options on a way forward.
‘They will return with options to address these issues and I will update this house when that matter is concluded,’ she said.
‘It’s premature for me to comment on what a potential solution may be at this stage.’
Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse asked how a change in pay could affect the budget for the department, but Mrs Poole-Wilson couldn’t give a figure.
The minister said: ‘The survey results suggest that while pressure is absolutely acute for probation officers and the most junior officers, it’s not unique to that group of officers.
‘I think a number of people are now feeling the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis.
‘The preferable route now is to understand from the working group what the potential options may be and from that point we will be able to look at the likely cost implications of that and what is possible but also within the financial constraints that we face and sustainable.’
Police pay in the Isle of Man has been historically linked to police pay for England and Wales. This means that the department and chief constable have ‘little in the way of discretion’ for changes to pay, she explained.
There have been some changes in the past to address this matter.
For example, the chief constable used rules under the existing pay scheme to increase the starting pay for a first-year trainee officer up to £24,000.
When this was introduced six years ago, it was an increase of almost £3,000 over the equivalent UK starting salary.
Today, the starting pay for a first-year trainee officer is £25,900 which is higher than the equivalent in England and Wales, which currently sits at £23,556.
Mrs Poole-Wilson added: ‘It’s also important to reference this year’s police pay award which was a consolidated payment of £1,900 per officer, which represented an average of 6% increase, but for the lowest paid officers this was an 8% increase.’
She also explained that when the Police Federation first raised this matter, the department asked for more information to support its case. The result of this was the survey.