Police officers in Scotland have moved a step closer to industrial action after being treated with “utter contempt” over pay negotiations. 

The general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation took to Twitter on Wednesday to blast force bosses and ministers for refusing to enter talks.

Earlier this month, officers in Scotland were offered a pay increase of about 2 per cent for most officers and 1% for its higher-earning members.

The SPF, which represents all officers from junior constables to chief inspectors, described the offer as “derisory” and asked for 3.4%.

It has now been 19 days since the last talks between the Police Negotiating Board - made up of the Scottish Police Authority, Police Scotland and the Scottish government - and the staff side. 

Mr Steele told our sister title The Herald his members were “facing a wall of silence” while other public sector workers were engaged in meaningful negotiations.

On Wednesday afternoon the Scottish Government offered NHS staff a 5 per cent pay rise, a record high pay deal. Last week staff at the publicly owned ScotRail were also offered 5 per cent. 

Mr Steele said: “I have never known anything like this in the 15 years that I've been involved with the police negotiating board. 

“In all of the years since the Police Service of Scotland was created where I have been the principal negotiator on behalf of police officers in Scotland I have never encountered a situation like this before.”

On social media, he said the government was "displaying an utter contempt for police officers in our ongoing pay dispute" and that his members were "incandescent at how they are being treated". 

Police officers have legal limits on what industrial action they are allowed to take. They are forbidden from striking. 

But Mr Steele said what they can do within the limits of law was “significant” and would “have an impact.”

The Scottish Government and Police Scotland have been approached for comment.

Last year, police officers received a £700 pay rise and a separate non-consolidated payment of £250.