Sajid Javid with Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick Credit PA
The Home Office is facing a legal battle with the Police Federation over a "derisory” 2% pay rise.
The body, which is effectively the union for 120,000 rank-and-file officers in England and Wales, has asked lawyers to launch a judicial review against Sajid Javid, the home secretary, and warned of a “deep sense of anger" among its members over the below-inflation boost.
Javid signed off on a 2% pay rise earlier this year – 1% short of the total amount recommended by government advisers on the independent Police Remuneration Review Body.
Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick has already called the decision a "punch on the nose", while Javid himself was reported to have written to Downing Street calling it the "wrong decision".
Announcing the High Court move, Police Federation chairman John Apter said: "The Home Office has cheated police officers out of the pay increase they should receive; this year officers being awarded a derisory 2% increase."
He added: "In response to this betrayal and based on legal advice, PFEW has instructed solicitors to start judicial review proceedings against the home secretary on the basis that he has stated that the pay decision was a government decision and not his decision alone.
"Police officers must be treated fairly and have confidence that any independent pay recommendations will be accepted in full by the home secretary .
"I know the deep sense of anger felt by many of our members about the way they have been treated."
Labour seized on the challenge by the federation, saying it undermined Theresa May's Conservative Party conference claim to be ending austerity.
Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh said: “The home secretary’s below inflation pay offer was an insult to police officers nationwide and the failure to respect the independent pay body made a mockery of the process.
“Theresa May promised an end to austerity in her speech to the Tory conference but a below inflation pay offer is not ending austerity for the police.
“Rank and file officers will feel duped by a home secretary whose actions have not lived up to his words. It’s time he showed some respect and gave police officers the pay rise they richly deserve.”
The Home Office said the latest pay rise – which kicked in on September 1 – was the highest in eight years. "The number of people joining police forces is at a 10-year high, which demonstrates policing is still a desirable and sought-after career," a spokesperson added.
"We are grateful to all police officers for the incredible job they do – and will continue to ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively," they said.