More police chiefs 'would consider resigning over Sheehy': Terry Kirby outlines objections to proposals for reform of the police service

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The Independent Online
THREE more chief constables yesterday threatened to resign rather than see the controversial sections of the Sheehy report implemented in full.

The chief constables of Derbyshire, Avon and Somerset and Dyfed-Powys made their threats following a leaked memorandum from Sir Hugh Annesley, Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, saying he would not 'willingly preside' over a service in which the report was fully implemented. Sir Hugh's statement echoed the feelings of Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who was reported to have said he would 'find it very difficult' to head a post-Sheehy force.

The warnings will increase pressure on Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, to drop key proposals for replacing annual pay awards with performance related pay, fixed term contracts, extending the retirement age and abolishing casual overtime.

Although the Association of Chief Police Officers has indicated compromise is likely, the statements underline the strong feelings among individual chief officers. Despite benefitting from increased powers and 30 per cent performance bonuses, they are worried that low starting salaries will affect recruitment and other changes will undermine morale.

Yesterday's statements came in response to a survey by the Press Association of the reaction of chief constables to Sheehy. John Newing, the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, said he agreed '100 per cent' with Mr Condon and Sir Hugh. ' I would find it hard to be a chief officer in a police organisation which imposed those kinds of conditions,' he said.

Full implementation of Sheehy would result in a 'demoralised and demotivated police force,' David Shattack, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, said. 'We would get the wrong people at the starting pay that is proposed and I wouldn't want to lead that sort of organisation.'

Ray White, the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys, said he would have to consider his position if Sheehy was implemented in its present form. 'It would weaken the service at a time when we desperately need additional resources to cope with increasing crime,' he said.

Most of the 14 chief constables - out of 51 in the United Kingdom - contacted by PA strongly criticised Sheehy, but two said resignation was not the answer.