Head of police unit paid £200,000 and keeps old job

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The Independent Online

A former police officer is to be paid £200,000 a year – £80,000 more than the Home Secretary and ten times the salary of a constable – to run a new Home Office unit set up to improve policing standards and efficiency.

Kevin Bond will be paid for a 36-hour week, but will continue to work for his current employers, an American-based environmental engineering company, for which he will receive an additional salary.

The decision to pay Mr Bond even more than the Prime Minister was attacked yesterday as "extraordinary" and there were calls for David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, to justify the appointment.

The huge amount being paid to the 51-year-old is considered by insiders to indicate that the Home Office is planning to take a greater central control in the running of the police.

Mr Bond, who was a policeman for 18 years and is currently managing director of the European division of Earth Tech Inc, will take up his post as head of the Police Standards Unit next week. He will be seconded to the Home Office for three years and his current pay package will be matched by the Government.

In 1998, Mr Bond provoked anger when he was chief executive of Yorkshire Water by collecting a £298,000 package, a rise of 69 per cent, while workers received pay rises tied to the rate of inflation.

Mr Bond's new salary, which will include pension contributions and other benefits, is considerably higher than the maximum payable to civil servants, which currently peaks at £179,000 a year. It is also above the Prime Minister's salary of £165,418 and the Home Secretary's £119,979.

Police constables earn about £18,000 a year on starting service. Most chief constables are paid between £90,000 and £120,000.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We believe he's the best person for the job and if we want the best person we must be prepared to pay for that person."

But Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "The Government has not adequately justified the extraordinary salary attached to this appointment. It is hard to believe that the right person could not be found for the job at the normal salary for a senior civil servant.

"It is highly unusual that a head of one government unit will be paid more than top civil servants running whole departments, or indeed the Prime Minister running the country. The Home Secretary has more explaining to do than we have heard."

Mr Bond's post will also be a controversial one because many officers fear the unit, which will employ about 20 people, will lead to the Home Office wielding more centralised control over the 43 forces in England and Wales. His task will be to identify areas of "best practice" in each force and encourage the adoption of successful techniques nationwide.

Chief constables and divisional commanders who refuse to make improvements could be sacked by Mr Blunkett under new powers being introduced. The Home Secretary said: "The Standards Unit has an absolutely key role in delivering on police reform."

Mr Bond joined West Midlands police in 1972 and rose to be a chief superintendent. He left the police in 1990 to become a regional director for the National Rivers Authority and was appointed chief executive in 1994. In 1996 he joined Yorkshire Water as managing director and he moved to Earth Tech four years later.

Mr Bond said: "The Home Secretary has made absolutely clear what is required and the Standards Unit has a big task ahead of it. But it's a task I'm committed to."