In the Media

Christmas bonus comes early for police in order to boost morale

PUBLISHED June 22, 2012

Police have traditionally received the "special priority payment" in December but one force is bringing forward the payment to July.

Humberside said it was making the move because of the impact on "workforce morale" caused by a landmark review of pay and conditions, which will abolish the bonus across England and Wales.

Rank-and-file officers are also angry about changes to their pensions and new rules that could see them sacked, and may seek the right to strike having taken part in a mass rally earlier this year.

Chief Constable Tim Hollis wrote in a report: "In previous years payments have been made in December, however, given the impact of the Winsor review on workforce morale, Chief Officers approved that payment be brought forward this year from December to July 2012, to provide reassurance to the police officers that the Force is committed to quickly resolving the challenges presented by the Winsor Review."

He went on: "The Chief Constable's decision to make the payment earlier than in previous years, and a simplified application process, resulting in positive feedback regarding the process, fully supports the principle of best use of resources and supports the aim of improving officer morale and policing performance."

However the organisation that represents the rank-and-file said it was unsure about the effect the early Christmas bonus will have.

Steve Garmston, chairman of the Humberside Police Federation, told the Hull Daily Mail: "I am pleased it is being paid but I don't necessarily see that bringing it forward is doing anybody any favours.

"The officers are getting half a year's entitlement compared with what they got last year and it is the last time they will ever get it.

"They are pleased to be getting something, but I'm not sure I would say it is particularly wonderful for motivation."

Special priority payments were introduced in 2003 by David Blunkett when he was Home Secretary to reward officers doing difficult and unpopular jobs.

To qualify they must take on extra responsibilities, work in especially demanding conditions and in roles where there is a shortage of candidates or high turnover.

But they were criticised as so many officers, up to senior ranks, qualified for them and they ended up costing taxpayers £90million a year.

Eventually the Home Secretary accepted a recommendation by the independent reviewer of police conditions, Tom Winsor, that the payments should be scrapped and this year's round will be the last.

Last year Humberside paid £500 to 56 per cent of its officers.

In a report to be discussed at next week's police authority meeting, the Chief Constable wrote that this year 60 per cent of the force - some 1,100 officers - will qualify.

But they will receive half as much as in 2011, costing the force £275,000 in total.