In the Media

Radical reform plan could mean end of 'job for life' culture in police

PUBLISHED March 16, 2012

The Winsor review would end the days of police officers enjoying a "job for life" by giving chief constables the power to make compulsory redundancies. However despite being treated more like public sector employees, they will not be given the right to strike.

Thousands of sworn officers who are overweight or who work in back-offices after being injured could also be pushed out through the introduction of annual fitness tests and an increase in retirement on ill-health grounds.

Meanwhile bright graduates, business executives and those in the military or security services will be encouraged to sign up. Fast-track "direct entry" schemes could see applicants rise to the rank of inspector in just three years rather than the current 17.

New recruits will have to have passed three A-Levels in another move to make a career in policing seen as prestigious as one in law or medicine, rather than an "intellectually undemanding" "blue-collar" job. However a constable's starting salary will be cut by £4,500 as the posts currently attract too many applicants.

The old-fashioned and "dysfunctional" pay system will also be shaken up with the introduction of pay based on performance rather than length of service, and the abolition of bonuses for senior ranks.

The pension age will rise to 60 under the proposals, rather than after 30 years' service, and while skilled frontline officers would eventually receive £7,105 a year more, others with fewer skills who work in back-office functions could see their salaries fall by as much as £10,586.

Tom Winsor, the former Rail Regulator who published the second part of his Government-commissioned review of police pay and conditions on Thursday, admitted he hoped it would change the culture in the service as well as saving £1.9billion within six years.

"A profession which is closed at all points of entry other than the very bottom is in danger of becoming inward-looking and insular," he said.

The 121 recommendations in his 1,000-page report, published a year after an earlier part that proposed cutting wages for many officers, will be fiercely resisted by many in the service and their leaders.

They come after the Government announced a 20 per cent budget cut on the police, the introduction of directly elected police commissioners, and encouraged the outsourcing of back-office functions to private firms.

Paul McKeever, chairman of Police Federation which represents the rank-and-file, asked: "Police officers have had enough of the constant state of uncertainty and the deliberate, sustained attack on them by this Government.

"They want to get on with the job they joined to do, serving their communities, and they expect the support of government."

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: "I have not seen all of the recommendations, but I do support the broad thrust of them, especially

around officers being fitter, lateral entry into the service, and pay being based on skills and knowledge."

Nick Herbert, the police minister, said: "The existing police pay system was designed over 30 years ago. We want police pay and conditions that are fair and fit for the 21st Century."