Strong arm of the law

New plans to modernise the police force would see officers fitter, smarter – and having and work for less. Paul Peachey reports

Click to follow
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 1,000-page 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, which follows an 18-month study into pay and conditions, 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 either overweight or obese, a higher proportion than among the general population. Fewer female officers were overweight compared with the rest of the population, the study found.

The review called for an eight per cent cut in pay if officers failed to pass a simple shuttle-run test on three occasions. The tests – which have been criticised for setting the standard too low – are the equivalent to an average speed of 8.8kph (5.5mph) for three minutes 35 seconds, said Mr Winsor.

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 that could see them rise to the rank of inspector in three years. Candidates from business, the military and the security services should be encouraged to apply under the scheme to try to change the culture and give the police the same standing as law, medicine or the military, Mr Winsor said. The police needed to evolve to ensure that officers could "keep up" with ever more resourceful criminals. For too long, the report said, police work had been seen as intellectually undemanding and the culture needed to change. The report calls for pay to be linked to skills and performance, with more money for officers carrying out the most demanding roles.

"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. "Officers who work on the frontline, exercising their powers as constables in the most difficult circumstances have nothing to fear from this review."

The police has "many very significant strengths, it has other features which are less worthy of admiration," he said. Any organisation which was closed to recruitment other than from the very bottom "is in danger of becoming inward-looking and insular."

His review also called for a minimum retirement age of 60 to bring the force closer to other public sector workers. Police officers can now retire on full pensions after 30 years service, clearing the way for a second lucrative career in the private sector in their 50s while drawing a full pension.

The report, which Mr Winsor said would lead to savings of £1.9bn 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".

The publication of the second tranche of the review comes as forces face 20 per cent cuts. Further major changes will come in November with the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners to oversee the work of the 43 forces in England and Wales. The Winsor Review also recommended that the powerful new elected figures be given the right to appoint overseas candidates to become chief constables.

Theresa May will decide if the recommendations in the report are adopted.

Can you beat the cops? Police maths tests

Now (multiple choice)

1) A purse was found with one £5 note, four 20p coins and five 2p coins. How much did the purse contain altogether?

2) A work shift begins at 14.15 and lasts for six hours. What time does it end?



1) A man left £6,090 to his three children. The eldest received twice as much as the next child, who received twice as much as the youngest. How much did the youngest receive?

2) Who is the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports?



1) Describe the position, climate and chief products of any THREE of the following: Ceylon, Newfoundland, Sicily, Tasmania, Vancouver Island.

2) In what ways, other than by income tax, does an ordinary citizen contribute to the revenue of the state?



1) Multiply 7,419 by 837.

2) What is the cost of 4 yards of ribbon if 50 yards costs 6s 3d?


Answers at the bottom of the page


Changing face of the force


Physical After initial assessment, no further tests


Education No formal education standards required but must be sufficiently competent in written and spoken English and numeracy


Pension Two pensions in place. For older recruits, officers receive full pension after 30 years' service – no minimum age


Time taken to rise to inspector 17 years (average)


Entry-level pay (PC) £23,500


Physical Shuttle run tests throughout terms of service. Anyone who fails three times subject to disciplinary proceedings and loss of pay. More demanding tests from 2018.


Education Equivalent of three A-levels at C-grade or higher, or entry as a community support officer or special constable.


Pension Minimum pension age of 60


Time taken to rise to inspector Three years (for fast track entrants)


Entry level pay (PC) £19,000


Maths test answers


1) £5.90

2) 20.15



1) £870

2) Michael Boyce, Baron Boyce (now), Sir Winston Churchill (in 1959)



1) Ceylon (Sri Lanka): South of India, Tropical, Tea
Newfoundland: Eastern Canada, Humid continental, iron ore
Sicily: South-west of mainland Italy, Mediterranean, citrus fruits
Tasmania: South of mainland Australia, cool temperate, copper
Vancouver Island: West of mainland Canada,


2) National insurance, VAT, council tax, fuel excise duty and many others (now)



1) 6209703

2) One sixpence and three farthings