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Police Officers and Staff (Remuneration and Conditions of Service)

Volume 542: debated on Tuesday 27 March 2012

On 15 March I issued a written statement to the House to announce that Tom Winsor had published the final report of his review of remuneration and conditions of service for police officers and staff in England and Wales.

When the review was launched, I said that it is vital that we have a modern and flexible police service to meet the demands placed on it, and this is still true today. We have the finest police service in the world, and our police do one of the most important jobs in the country with great courage, skill and commitment. However, we need to support the service in maximising its potential and in its progress to become the 21st century service the public deserve.

The review has an important role to play in this as part of the Government’s wider police reform agenda, along with other reforms including the introduction of police and crime commissioners, the reduction in bureaucracy, developing professionalism in the service and the creation of the police professional body, and improving service to the public through collaboration between police forces, with other public services and with the private sector. Police officers and staff deserve to have pay and work force 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. We also need a work force that can respond to the reality of policing in the 21st century.

The Winsor review began its work on 1 October 2010. Its terms of reference asked for recommendations on how to:

Use remuneration and conditions of service to maximise officer and staff deployment to frontline roles where their powers and skills are required;

Provide remuneration and conditions of service that are fair to and reasonable for both the public taxpayer and police officers and staff;

Enable modern management practices in line with practices elsewhere in the public sector and the wider economy.

The review was asked to report in two stages: the first on short-term improvements and a second on longer-term reforms.

On 30 January 2012 I laid a statement about recommendations made in Tom Winsor’s Part 1 Report. I accepted the recommendations from the Police Arbitration Tribunal and the Police Negotiating Board on these matters. These recommendations represented an important first step in modernising police pay and conditions so that they are fair to officers and to taxpayers.

The Government remain committed to further reform and to the principles set out in the Winsor Part 1 Report:

Fairness is an essential part of any new system of pay and conditions

The office of constable is the bedrock of British policing

The demands of policing should be given full and proper weight

People should be paid for what they do, the skills they have and are applying in their work, and the weights of the jobs they do

People should be paid for how well they work

A single police service—distinctions in pay and other conditions of service between police officers and staff should be objectively justified

Arrangements should be simple to implement and administer

Phased introduction of reform

The final report sets out a further package of specific recommendations for police officers’ and staff remuneration and conditions of service, based on these guiding principles.

These include proposals to reform officers’ pay structures, to change the ways in which they join and leave the service, and for a new system for determining pay and conditions.

The Government have now had the opportunity to consider the final report.

I am minded to direct the Police Negotiating Board and Police Advisory Board for England and Wales to consider as a matter of urgency proposals on pay, a fast-track scheme to the rank of inspector and other matters that are within their respective remits. I am consulting the independent chair of those bodies on this.

I asked Tom Winsor to consider the findings of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission, led by Lord Hutton, concerning the normal pension age for police officers. The final report recommends a pension age of 60, in line with Lord Hutton’s recommended pension age for police officers.

This recommendation will be reflected in a proposal for long-term reform of police pensions on which I will now consult the Police Negotiating Board. In common with the reforms which are being developed across public service pension schemes, the Government are committed to ensuring that police pensions are affordable and sustainable for the future. Those who work in the police and across public services will continue to have access to pension schemes that are among the very best available.

Tom Winsor has also made recommendations for entry to the service at the rank of superintendent and, for those with relevant policing experience overseas, at the rank of chief constable. I do not believe it is in the best interests of the service to restrict its ability to appoint officers to senior positions to a limited number of individuals. While police leaders have undoubted strengths, I want to ensure that the police service is able to draw upon the best pool of talent available. The Government believe that the review’s recommendations on entry could support this and I will therefore consult partners on them.

The review also recommends significant changes to the way in which police pay and conditions are determined, including abolishing the Police Negotiating Board, establishing a pay review body for officers, and including the remuneration of chief officers in the senior salaries review body’s remit. The Government will consult on proposals for implementing the necessary changes to the police officer pay machinery.

The recommendations made in the report are matters of serious national importance for the service, which could play a vital role in reform. They represent significant changes to structures for pay, conditions, careers and leadership. I will therefore be taking forward the steps I have described as a matter of urgency.