UK & World News

  • 15 January 2013, 12:34

Police Starting Salaries Slashed By 4,000

The starting salary for police constables is to be slashed by 4,000 under a package of controversial reforms.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she was minded to press ahead with the radical overhaul proposed last year by civilian lawyer Tom Winsor.

The move will see the initial salary for constables fall to 19,000 and is bound to provoke further anger at the coalition among rank and file officers.

Rail regulator-turned-police watchdog Mr Winsor enraged tens of thousands of officers last year with his proposals, most of which have been accepted.

However, the Home Secretary said plans to bring in compulsory severance across all ranks will be held back for further negotiation.

In a written ministerial statement, Mrs May said the reforms were part of a programme to "modernise police pay and conditions so that they are fair to both officers and the taxpayer".

She said: "Existing police pay and conditions were designed more than 30 years ago which is why we asked Tom Winsor to carry out his independent review.

"Police officers and staff deserve to have pay and workforce arrangements that recognise the vital role they play in fighting crime and keeping the public safe, and enable them to deliver effectively for the public."

The Home Secretary added: "The Government's reform programme is working - crime is falling and public confidence is high."

Mrs May was responding to a series of recommendations made by the Police Arbitration Tribunal last year.

She also accepted plans to introduce a national on-call allowance of 15 for each daily on-call session for rank-and-file officers from April 2013.

Bonuses given to staff at the top of the pay scale who can show they have performed strongly are also to be phased out over the next three years.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said that under the reforms, chief constables will have the power to pay a starting salary of up to 22,000 depending on skills and qualifications.

Officers will also be able to reach the top rate of pay three years earlier than under the current arrangements.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy, the Acpo lead on workforce development, said: "Police service funding has already been considerably reduced and further financial pressure lies ahead.

"Chief constables must have the means available to them to manage their workforce through these difficult times, even if that means taking steps that are unwelcome."

But the Police Federation of England and Wales said the pay cut is "ill conceived and fails to reflect the dangers and demands inherent in the job".

MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said morale in the police force is at "an all-time low"

He said: "This is the wrong time to cut the pay of ordinary police officers. If the Home Secretary wants her revolution in policing to be successful, she must carry the workforce with her."

The cut comes after Mr Winsor, who took up the role of Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary three months ago, said the current system should be overhauled.

In his report last year, he said it should be changed from the 1920s design that rewards years of service with a scheme that recognises merit.

He also called for the introduction of application criteria, demanding that recruits have the equivalent of three A-levels at grades A-C.

A fast track for exceptional candidates, allowing them to rise from civilian to inspector in three years and potentially by the time they turn 24, was another recommendation.

Mr Winsor's plans included higher pay for more demanding jobs and an allowance for working unsocial hours, defined as outside 8am to 6pm.

And it called for the pension age for officers to be raised to 60, in line with Lord Hutton's recommendations.

Tens of thousands of officers marched through central London in protest over the report last year, after which Mrs May was heckled and booed at the Police Federation's annual conference.

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