Clarke states terms of inquiry into police: Terry Kirby considers the size of the task facing the five-man team, whose members have no prior experience of the police or criminal justice system

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THE HOME OFFICE-ordered inquiry into police pay and conditions will be expected to devise a replacement for the current 'rigid and inflexible' system for determining annual awards for the service, Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, said yesterday.

Announcing the membership and terms of reference for the inquiry, Mr Clarke said that he expected it to take a fresh look at policing pay and responsibilities with the aim of improving efficiency and effectiveness.

None of the five-strong inquiry team has any prior experience of the police or criminal justice system - Mr Clarke said that he wanted people with the experience of running 'large and difficult organisations' and whose judgement was based on their 'contacts as citizens' with police.

It will be headed by Sir Patrick Sheehy, chairman of BAT Industries, the tobacco-based industrial group. The other members are John Bullock, joint senior partner of Coopers and Lybrand, the chartered accountants; Professor Colin Campbell, vice-chancellor of Nottingham University; Eric Caines, director of personnel for the NHS and Sir Paul Fox, the recently retired managing director of BBC Television.

The inclusion of Mr Caines is particularly significant. He is a former senior civil servant in the Home Office prison department, who was principal architect of the Fresh Street agreement on pay and conditions in the prison service. The agreement, which was only passed and implemented after much internal wrangling, was aimed at abolishing some restrictive practices, including overtime.

Sir Patrick said yesterday that in spite of recent miscarriages of justice, the majority of people fundamentally supported the police. 'We should be proud of our police force in this country.' He said he knew little about the police, had little personal contact with them, but was prepared to learn.

The terms of reference are more pointed than those outlined by Mr Clarke when he first announced the inquiry six weeks ago and it became clear yesterday that it will also embrace Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as England and Wales. But it was not a 'whither policing' inquiry.

Mr Clarke said it would specifically examine whether changes were needed in structure and conditions of service to reflect current roles and responsibilities; whether there was enough flexibility in the distribution of rewards to ensure that 'responsibilities and performance were recognised in changing circumstances', and to ensure that the remuneration was adequate to recruit, retain and motivate officers of the right quality.

The inquiry will take into account the 'principle' of the Edmund Davies agreement that police pay should reflect the special nature of a police officer's role. This agreement, implemented by the Conservatives in 1979, gives police an annual index-linked pay award.

Mr Clarke said Edmund Davies had served its purpose in increasing the level of police pay, but it was now time to look at new ways of sharing the cake. The inquiry will take into account current research on the police, manpower profiles and changes in retirement policy, reports by the Audit Commission on efficiency and manpower, work on performance measures and indicators and the special considerations of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Mr Clarke added: 'We must aim to make the police . . . more effective and more efficient. This depends above all on giving the leadership of the service the ability to motivate their workforce and to encourage the best police officers to give of their best in commitment and enthusiasm. No one will be able to improve policing if the system of man management is so rigid and inflexible that rewards cannot be used to stimulate better performances.

The inquiry, due to report in May next year, will begin taking evidence shortly; it is unclear whether any evidence will be taken in public.

Alan Eastwood, chairman of the Police Federation, which is apprehensive of an assault on pay or greater privatisation of police services, said that he regretted there was no one with policing experience, and no woman, in the inquiry team.