The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has warned of the impact of a potential public sector pay freeze - urging the Government to step back from imposing this on police officers and other key public sector workers.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is reportedly preparing to announce a limit on the pay of millions of council staff, civil servants, teachers, police and other public servants when he unveils his spending review next week.
Mark Lindsay, the chair of the Police Federation here, said: "In the midst of a pandemic, a pay freeze or pay cap would be seen as penalising key workers who are doing their level best in these most trying of circumstances.
"If these Press reports are accurate, then I have to say the Government is being badly advised.
"Freezing pay for police officers and other public sector workers would be a kick in the teeth and a deplorable way of 'rewarding' those who are in the frontline of this health crisis. I understand public finances are in a shocking state with £215bn in borrowings but, once again, penalising our officers and others would be a shocking and deplorable act."
The federation leader added: "I appeal to the Chancellor to step back from a pay freeze which would cause untold damage to morale and inflict real hardship on officers whose commitment during this pandemic has been without question."
Mr Lindsay said police officers were still waiting for a pay increase they were due three months ago,
"Let's not forget that our officers are still waiting for their 2020/2021 pay increase which should have appeared in September payslips. Our devolved processes have led to yet another year where we are left high and dry waiting months on end for sign off," he said.
Mr Lindsay added that officers had faced a decade of austerity, in which his members had received well below inflation pay rises several years running,
"To add insult to injury we are preparing pay submissions for next year without having last year's settlement implemented," he said.
"This is a disgraceful state of affairs and to now have the prospect of a pay freeze will cause untold pain for my hard working and committed colleagues."
Both the PSNI and the Department of Justice were approached for comment on this story.