Huge review of police pay launched

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The Independent Online

Ministers have ordered a wholesale review of police pay and conditions with "nothing off limits", Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said yesterday.

Mrs May said the most comprehensive review in more than 30 years would aim to bring modern management practices into policing to help forces cope with budget cuts. There will be difficult negotiations as the Government, police leaders and rank-and-file representatives attempt to thrash out proposals.

Police have been criticised for a £450m-a-year overtime bill and other "out-of-date" remuneration rules.

Figures released by the Metropolitan Police in August revealed that five constables boosted their wages by £50,000 with overtime. A document outlining potential savings, prepared in August by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), suggested scrapping a host of additional payments and bonuses, as well as reducing the amount of overtime paid for working on public holidays.

Other arrangements, including compensation for cancelled rest days, may also be changed or ended completely and it was reported last night that the ban on the police right to strike may be scrapped in return for changes in the way they are remunerated. The review, which will report on short-term improvements in February next year and on longer-term reform in June, will scrutinise allowances, overtime and the cost of officers working in other force areas.

It will cover police officers and civilian staff, including police community support officers (PCSOs), across the 43 forces in England and Wales. PCSOs came under the spotlight when it emerged they cost one force £156,000 for each crime detected last year. Hampshire Police paid £7.8m wages to its 330 PCSOs, an average of £23,636, but they detected just 50 crimes and handed out only 122 fines.

Tom Winsor, the former rail regulator, will lead the review and will have a "wide remit to consider all aspects of police pay and conditions", the Home Office said. "I will be getting out to see police officers and staff at work on the front line to understand as much as I can about the job in all its aspects," said Mr Winsor. "I have always had immense respect for police officers and staff. Every day those on the front line face difficult and dangerous situations."

Ms May said: "We need radical solutions to improve policing – nothing will be off-limits in this review. It is vital we have a modern and flexible police service. This review will help ensure chief constables can deliver the frontline services people want, while providing value for money."

Sir Hugh Orde, the president of Acpo, was pleased the review would "recognise the unique status of police as office-holders who must be available to respond to need at any time". He added: "What is required is a scheme that treats officers fairly and recognises their hard work, while providing chief officers with the critical flexibility to respond to the current financial challenges."