Green light for performance-related police pay

30 Jan 12
Ministers have backed plans to overhaul police pay that will see around £150m a year shaved off the wage bill.

By Richard Johnstone | 30 January 2012

Ministers have backed plans to overhaul police pay that will see around £150m a year shaved off the wage bill.

Home Secretary Theresa May said that the government was accepting the independent Police Arbitration Tribunal’s plans for reform. These were based on a review by former rail regulator Tom Winsor which called for the abolition of a series of allowances. This includes ending the Special Priority Payments that are paid to police officers deemed to have greater responsibility than normal for their rank.

The findings were submitted to the Police Arbitration Tribunal, which decides on police pay agreements where the government and the Police Federation can’t agree on deals.

The tribunal backed most of Winsor’s recommendations, which also included ending the system of pay progression being based on length of service and not performance.

May said that although some police officers would be ‘disappointed’ by the decision to implement the changes, there would be no reduction in basic pay. 

Speaking at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London today, May said that the existing system of police pay and conditions had been in place for more than 30 years, and had not changed to reward specialist skills.

‘Skills, performance and successful crime fighting aren't rewarded. Time served still determines how well most police officers are paid. And I don’t think that’s right,’ she said.

Pension contributions paid by police officers are also set to rise as part of the government’s public sector pension reforms.

There were some of Winsor’s recommendations where the tribunal made no decision, including creating a expertise and professional accreditation allowance to align an officer’s pay to the their duties.

May confirmed that the government would examine this again when Winsor submits his second report, looking at longer-term reforms including the pension age. This is expected to be published later this month.

Responding to the announcement, the Police Federation of England and Wales, said that although it accepted the tribunal’s decision, ‘it does not mean that we're happy with the outcome’.

Chair Paul McKeever said: ‘Whichever way you dress it up, this will mean serious financial hardship for police officers.

‘Let's not forget, this government is unduly targeting police officers. In addition to what amounts to a four-year public sector pay freeze and increased pension contributions, police officers are having to contend with a range of changes to terms and conditions; the result of which is effectively a pay cut.’

The Association of Chief Police Officers said the decision struck a balance ‘between the need to achieve savings, given the national economic situation, and the financial pressures facing individual police officers’.

Acpo lead on workforce development Chief Constable Peter Fahy added: ‘The two-year pay freeze combined with a two-year increment freeze, the removal of various bonus payments and the increase in pension contributions will have a significant impact on many staff.  

‘Over time Acpo would like to see a greater emphasis on recognising the considerable expertise of our staff in the pay system and a lesser importance on time served. We will hopefully be able to address some of these issues in the next stage of the Winsor report.’


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