The Sheehy Inquiry: Police warn of conflict over review proposals: The Sheehy recommendations will change radically the roles of all officers from chief constables to the lower ranks. Terry Kirby assesses their reactions

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The Independent Online
THE recommendations of the Sheehy inquiry could result in 'open conflict' with the Government, the Police Federation warned last night, arguing that it would diminish the status of the service.

All of the federation's 120,000 members up to the rank of chief inspector will be affected if the proposals go ahead. The federation was relaxed about the inquiry, believing it would provide more rewards for lower-level officers and attack the ceremony surrounding senior ranks. But it was clear last night that its expectations have been dashed, largely because of the abolition of the index-linked annual pay award.

Alan Eastwood, chairman of the federation, said: 'The Sheehy report reduces the police service from being a dedicated vocation to being just another job. Its authors have understood little or nothing of . . . policing.

'Sheehy has devastated police morale. The report is divisive, negative and even oppressive. It gives chief constables unprecedented powers and emasculates the negotiating rights of the rank and file officers.' He said it would be another blow to police self- esteem when morale is already low.

Chief Superintendent David Golding, president of the Police Superintendents Association, whose own rank could disappear along with about 600 of his 2,300-strong membership, said the recommendations would severely reduce the ability of the police to service public demands. 'We will not be able to recruit, retain and motivate officers of the best quality,' he said.

Under the proposals, senior officers will determine who receives pay increases. Mike Bennett, chairman of the Metropolitan branch of the federation, warned that personality clashes would cast a shadow over such decisions.

Chief constables, who will face the same examination by their police authorities, which have the power to award bonuses of up to 30 per cent, reacted warily last night. 'We would be concerned if the notion of fixed-term contracts deters people from applying to join and this may change the whole ethos of the service,' John Burrow, Chief Constable of Essex and president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said.

John Smith, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said performance-related pay would be 'very difficult, but not impossible' to impose.

Some saw the report as imposing a market forces-led culture on the police, creating unhealthy competition between officers to create more 'businesslike' police authorities.

Robert Reiner, professor of criminology at the London School of Economics, said: 'Sheehy provides the weapons to control the police through the market mechanism. The police will be dancing much more closely to certain very specified tunes.'

Brian Hilliard, a former Metropolitan Police inspector and editor of Police Review, welcomed the report. 'Once the knee jerk reactions have gone and the implications studied seriously, it will be seen the recommendations are designed to produce a much more efficient service than the one we have at the moment.' He said most officers would recognise that the service had always carried 'dead wood' it was unable to get rid of.

m ----------------------------------------------------------------- PAY SCALES ----------------------------------------------------------------- Existing Ranks Old scale New Scale Min. Max. Min. Max. Constable 12,555 20,952 10,630 20,952 Sergeant 20,043 22,992 17,214 25,822 Inspector 22,992 26,103 22,214 33,322 Chief Inspector 26,103 29,037 rank abolished Superintendent 35,508 38,598 31,030 46,544 Chief Superintendent 39,480 42,066 rank abolished Assistant Chief Constable 46,542 47,709 41,748 62,622 Deputy Chief Constable 48,870 57,828 rank abolished Chief Constable 55,482 72,285 51,107 76,661 Commissioner, City Police 72,918 74,745 79,267 Met. Police 75,138 77,016 81,645 Commissioner, Metropolitan Police 90,147 95,959 Chief Constable RUC 79,647 81,636 95,205 ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1) Old pay scales exclude present special additions for London, Northern Ireland and the Scottish Islands. 2) Proposals make superintendents eligible for 10 per cent bonus from mid point of scale and ranks between ACC and Commissioner, Metropolitan Police eligible for 30 per cent bonus. RUC Chief Constable bonus of 10 per is consolidated as long as present conditions exist. -----------------------------------------------------------------