Letter: Come on now, gents, you know that wasn't a fair cop

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The Independent Online
YOUR leader (5 July) is poorly researched, inaccurate and misleading. The accompanying cartoon is downright offensive to many officers throughout the country, who are working at full stretch to uphold the law.

First, you say that 'since 1979, a constable's pay has gone up by 41 per cent in real terms . . . yet on crude measures of value for money, the police have failed to deliver'. You conveniently choose to forget that before 1979 police pay was at the bottom of the public sector pile. Surely you would agree that it is essential to pay officers a competitive salary to ensure that the service attracts officers of the highest calibre?

Second, you are right to say the crime rate has doubled since 1979. However, you omit to mention that there are now many more demands placed on the police than ever before. It is an essential 24- hour service, fulfilling a vital role in holding together the social fabric of this country.

Third, you claim that no attempts are being made to introduce performance-related pay, or to sack inefficient officers. This is completely untrue. The Association of Chief Police Officers is looking at ways of measuring officers' performance and of monitoring response times when dealing with the public, but we must ensure this is done within a framework of proper management procedures. And we are introducing pilot schemes throughout the country for job sharing, part-time employment, and flexible shift patterns.

We welcome the Home Secretary's inquiry, and hope it will link all these issues with the objective of bringing best personnel management practice into being. Much remains to be done, and some of the issues you mention will certainly feature in the debate. But we deserve a fairer judgement and more balanced debate than your leader-writers seem prepared to acknowledge.

Brian Johnson

Chief constable

Lancashire Constabulary