Parliament and Politics: More flexible structure proposed for police ranks

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Indy Politics
RADICAL proposals to reform the structure and manpower levels of the police were outlined yesterday to the Sheehy inquiry into police pay and responsibilities.

The main plank of the local authority proposals is the abolition of the system of having six fixed ranks between inspector and deputy chief constable; this would allow police authorities and chief constables freedom to decide pay and the numbers required at each level.

'The idea is to fit the salary structure to the jobs, rather than the jobs to salary structure, as it is at the moment. These would be determined locally in accordance with broad national guidelines,' said Mike Cann of the Local Government Management Board, which submitted the proposals yesterday on behalf of the Association of County Councils and Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

The local authorities also want central government to end its control of police establishments, which would allow chief constables to determine whether they should spend their financial allocations on more officers or on equipment or buildings.

The proposals include some ideas which are likely to be resisted by the police service itself. These include the introduction of fixed-term contracts for senior officers, together with the abolition of both enhanced overtime and public holiday pay and open- ended sick pay entitlement, which has caused concern in cases of officers who retire early on sickness grounds while facing disciplinary hearings.

The authorities also want to see the consolidation of housing allowances into basic pay.

In return, local authorities propose that the police should be able to retain their index-linked salaries - although they would be pegged to other pay settlements rather than the average earnings index - and would receive enhanced pay for good performance. Officers would also be given additional annual leave.

The Sheehy committee, headed by the industrialist Sir Patrick Sheehy, was set up by Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, to examine issues such as the abolition of a number of middle ranks and the question of performance related pay. It is due to report in the middle of next year.