The force of their criticism is increased by the fact that chief constables stand to earn bonuses of up to 30 per cent under the recommendations of the June report by Sir Patrick Sheehy, chairman of BAT Industries.
The attack aligns them with the lower ranks who have already bitterly rejected the report and creates difficulties for Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, who would need their support to implement any of the recommendations. Mr Howard has yet to signal his intentions but he has to make his views known before the Police Bill on Structural Reforms is introduced in the autumn.
John Burrow, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Chief Constable of Essex, said in a statement: 'Acpo is concerned that a number of the recommendations will damage the ethos of the service and the morale of individual officers.'
The statement rejects most of Sheehy's key elements - fixed- term appointments for lower- ranking officers, compulsory redundancies, moving the retirement age from 55 to 60 and abolishing a number of ranks. Ending unplanned overtime is 'unmanageable and unfair'.
The proposal to replace the national index-linked pay award with performance-related pay earns a stinging rebuke: 'We are not convinced that the new recruitment package . . . will be attractive enough to ensure entrants to the service of the right calibre.'
On Tuesday the respected senior figure of Sir Roger Birch, Chief Constable of Sussex and a former president of Acpo, will be on the platform of an anti-Sheehy rally at Wembley Arena in London which is expected to be attended by more than 11,000 police officers from all over the country.