Review calls for lower starting pay and tests to weed out unfit officers


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The Independent Online

Police officers face pay cuts if they fail annual fitness tests designed to improve standards under the most radical reforms in British policing for more than three decades.

Policing unions reacted with fury to the report by Tom Winsor, which called for tougher entry standards and an end to the jobs-for-life culture by giving senior officers the power to make officers compulsorily redundant. They condemned his findings as part of a "deliberate, sustained attack" by the Coalition Government.

The report highlighted poor levels of fitness in the Metropolitan Police, where three-quarters of policemen were overweight or obese, a higher proportion than among the general population. It called for an 8 per cent cut in pay if officers failed to pass a simple shuttle-run test on three occasions.

A more testing regime would start in 2018 under the review – ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May – which would see tests including climbing walls and pulling bodies. "We're not looking for supermen," said the former West Midlands Chief Constable, Sir Edward Crew, who worked on the review.

The study also called for cuts in the basic starting salary of a police Constable from £23,000 to £19,500, while pushing for fast-track entry for talented newcomers.

"It is clear that the existing pay system is unfair and inefficient. It was designed in 1920 and has remained largely unchanged since 1978," Mr Winsor said. His review also called for a minimum retirement age of 60 to bring the force closer to other public-sector workers; police officers can currently retire on full pensions after 30 years' service.

The report, which Mr Winsor said would lead to savings of £1.9 billion by 2017/2018, was received with fury by the Police Federation, which represents officers up to the rank of Chief Inspector. Chairman Paul McKeever said: "Police officers have had enough of the constant state of uncertainty and the deliberate, sustained attack on them by this Government."

Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the proposed reforms represented "a potentially lethal attack on the office of constable, the bedrock of British policing".