Police starting wage to be slashed by 20 per cent

 

The starting salary for police officers is to be slashed after the Home Secretary today approved a package of controversial reforms.

Theresa May said she was minded to press ahead with the radical overhaul proposed last year by civilian lawyer Tom Winsor and cut the starting salary for police constables by £4,000 to £19,000.

Rail regulator-turned-police watchdog Mr Winsor enraged tens of thousands of officers last year with his proposals, most of which have been accepted.

However, the Home Secretary said plans to bring in compulsory severance across all ranks will be held back for further negotiation.

In a written ministerial statement, Mrs May said the reforms were part of a programme to "modernise police pay and conditions so that they are fair to both officers and the taxpayer".

She said: "Existing police pay and conditions were designed more than 30 years ago which is why we asked Tom Winsor to carry out his independent review.

"Police officers and staff deserve to have pay and workforce arrangements that recognise the vital role they play in fighting crime and keeping the public safe, and enable them to deliver effectively for the public."

The Home Secretary added: "The Government's reform programme is working - crime is falling and public confidence is high."

Mrs May was responding to a series of recommendations made by the Police Arbitration Tribunal last year.

Mrs May also accepted plans to introduce a national on-call allowance of £15 for each daily on-call session for rank-and-file officers from April 2013.

In addition, competence-related threshold payments (CRTPs) - a bonus available to those who are at the top of the pay scale and can demonstrate they are strong performers - will be phased out over the next three years.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said that under the reforms, chief constables will have the power to pay a starting salary of up to £22,000 depending on skills and qualifications.

Officers can also reach the top rate of pay three years earlier than under the current arrangements, Acpo said.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy, Acpo lead on workforce development, said the police service is facing "unprecedented levels of change".

He added: "Police service funding has already been considerably reduced and further financial pressure lies ahead.

"Chief constables must have the means available to them to manage their workforce through these difficult times, even if that means taking steps that are unwelcome."

The Police Federation of England and Wales said the cut in the starting rate for new officers is "ill conceived and fails to reflect the dangers and demands inherent in the job".

Steve Williams, chair of the Police Federation, said: "While we remain disappointed with some of the recommendations we acknowledge that the Home Secretary has honoured the process of the Police Negotiating Board.

"We accept that today's decision by the Home Secretary is binding on the Police Federation of England and Wales and we will continue to engage fully on behalf of our members."

Mrs May was heckled, booed and jeered at the Police Federation's annual conference last year, just a week after some 30,000 officers marched through central London in protest over Mr Winsor's report.

Mr Winsor, who took up the role of Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary three months ago, said the current pay system, which was based on a 1920s design of rewarding years of service, should be replaced with one that recognised merit.

He called for a new educational requirement to be brought in, with applicants needing the equivalent of three A-levels at grades A to C.

The lawyer also called for direct entry to be introduced to the police service, giving exceptional applicants the chance to rise from civilian to inspector in just three years and potentially by the age of 24.

Successful businessmen and women, along with members of the armed forces and the security services, should all be encouraged to apply to the fast-track scheme, Mr Winsor said.

Among the 121 recommendations, the report also said there should be higher pay for more demanding jobs, pay linked to skills and performance rather than length of service, and an allowance for working unsocial hours, defined as outside 8am to 6pm.

It also called for the pension age for officers to be raised to 60, in line with Lord Hutton's recommendations.

MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said morale in the police force is at "an all-time low"

He said: "This is the wrong time to cut the pay of ordinary police officers."

He added: "If the Home Secretary wants her revolution in policing to be successful, she must carry the workforce with her."

PA

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