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Increasing danger money allowance would make police staff feel 'valued'

The PSNI has an estimated 2,500 police staff within its ranks of over 9,000, all of whom receive a danger money allowance of £580 a year.

The trade union representing PSNI staff has reiterated calls to increase the danger money allowance awarded to this group for only the second time in 33 years.

This award - officially known as a revised environmental allowance - was first granted to police staff in 1990 in recognition of the terrorist threat in the province.

It began as a yearly payment of £574, and has risen just once since.

The 1% increase sanctioned in 2018 means the staff allowance now stands at £580, significantly less than the £3,666 received by officers.

Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) trade union official Tracy Godfrey explains the reason for this. 

She told Police Oracle: "Unfortunately it was never linked to our pay rises or to inflation. I think it should be."

The Northern Ireland Transitional Allowance (NITA) given to officers is linked to pay awards.

When Ms Godfrey's policing career began in 1984, many people whose roles now fall under the staff umbrella were considered officers, including photographers, CSI, mappers and control room staff. 

Explaining that the transition was "gradual from around 1990 onwards”, Ms Godfrey says this left many who previously benefitted from increases in line with pay and inflation no longer able to do so. 

Not only has the classification of roles changed, but staff roles have evolved in a way that has seen this group subject to increased threat.

Ms Godfrey said: "When it was first awarded we were doing backroom roles. But now, with civilianisation over the years and the front-line roles we do, we are dealing with the public and under the same threat as our officer colleagues."

But this is not yet reflected in the danger money allowance, which NIPSA wants to increase to just over £1,000.

In 2020, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne signed off on a business case which has since been submitted to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Yet there has been no movement since, an impasse Ms Godfrey places firmly at the DoJ's door.

Describing the department as "the problem", she's willing to go further should progress not be made.

“This is the one thing that if I balloted police staff they would all be out on strike," she said, adding that there is an "appetite" to go down that route if needed.

The suggestion - made informally by a colleague she wishes not to name - that different increases are awarded to different roles has been rejected by Ms Godfrey, who described it is "complicated and divisive".

Securing an increase would mean a great deal to staff, and not just financially. "It would give staff a massive morale boost, because morale is so low – it would make them feel like they’re valued."

A spokesperson for the DoJ said: "The Department greatly values the work of everyone involved in delivering a fair, just and safe community in Northern Ireland. Police staff, sometimes referred to as civilian staff, play an important role in that.  

"All civilian police staff receive a Revised Environmental Allowance in addition to their pay. The Department is currently considering a business case and is awaiting updated legal advice from PSNI in regard to this."

Assistant Chief Officer for People and Organisational Development at the PSNI, Clare Duffield, said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland has agreed to uplift a revised Environmental Allowance paid to police staff. We await approval in order to implement this.”

Police staff pay accords with the Northern Ireland Civil Service Terms and Conditions.

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