A police pay committee recommends cutting the starting salary for officers to £19,000 as a part of the most radical overhaul of police remuneration in 30 years.
The Police Arbitration Panel (PAT), said on Thursday that it agreed with the recommendation in the Winsor Report, an independent review by lawyer Tom Winsor into police pay, that the starting salary for constables should be £4,000 lower than it currently is.
The PAT findings are binding, but need to be accepted by the Home Office. The Home Office has been arguing in favour of the salary cut.
The panel also deferred a decision on the introduction of compulsory severance for officers until a later date, pending negotiations.
The two sides of the debate are the official side, which includes representatives from the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and the the staff side, which includes representatives from the Police Federation and the Police Negotiating Board.
It’s a disappointing starting salary for a constable – Paul McKeever, chair of the Police Federation
The staff side had argued that the lower starting salary would make it more difficult to recruit a high-enough calibre of police officer and mature recruits. It proposed a starting salary of £21,000, still over £2,000 lower than the current starting salary of £23,259.
Against this view was that of the official side, which argued that a lower starting salary was in keeping with the objective of rewarding officers according to skills and contribution. It said the route to higher salaries for well-performing officers would be easier.
PAT found that “overall, the official side’s arguements were more convincing” in relation to starting salaries. It said it was not convinced that the lower salary would be a deterrant to more mature applicants or graduate applicants.
PFEW Chair: “Police service already hugely stretched and finding it difficult to keep its commitments…
— PFEW (@PFEW_HQ) December 6, 2012
PFEW Chair: “…to cut service further would have had a dire impact on public safety.â?
— PFEW (@PFEW_HQ) December 6, 2012
Paul McKeever, chair of the Police Federation, said: “It’s a disappointing starting salary for a constable – it’s lower than it is now. I cannot understand how it will attract a higher level of candidates if that is the ambition of the official side.
“We recognise the findings of the PAT and we welcome the fact the issue of compulsory severance has been deferred to allow common sense discussions to take place. Compulsory severance would have a detrimental impact on the service of this country and is something we will fight on.”
The announcement has drawn criticism on social media.
“The Winsor Review has been a deliberate erosion of the pay & conditions of police officers”Clive Chamberlain Chair Dorset Police Federation
— Dorset Police Fed (@DorsetPoliceFed) December 6, 2012
Former Chief Constable of the Thames Valley force, Peter Neyroud, commented in a tweet “[Tom] Winsor was asked to introduce modern management standards but has succeeded in introducing Victorian standards of pay.”
@roamingroyston Winsor was asked to introduce modern management standards but has succeeded in introducing Victorian standards of pay
— Peter Neyroud (@pwneyroud) December 6, 2012
From the Isle of Man, Inspector Derek Flint asked in a tweet: “will we now be seeing #bobbiesonbenefits ?”
£19k starting salary for police. Will we now see #bobbiesonbenefits ?Imagine a late joiner supporting a family. Will lose mature entrants
— Derek Flint (@InspFlint) December 6, 2012
PAT was considering a number of measures proposed by the Winsor Review, including the introduction of compulsory severance across all ranks in the police force from April 2013. Currently only long-serving officers with full pensionable service can be forced to retire on cost grounds.
Officials argue that compulsory severence is an essential tool in battling the economic problems of the police force – which has been tasked with finding massive savings from the police budget.
Those in favour of reform also points out that other public sector groups, such as the army, firefighters, prison officers and nurses, are subject to compulsory redundancy.
However, the staff side argues that compulsory severance could be used unfairly, and would impinge on the independence of the police as officers of the law.
In relation to compulsory severance, PAT ruled that more time was needed to negotiate on the issue. It said a further six months should be taken to consider if compulsory severance should be introduced.
The Police Superintendent’s Association said it welcomed the findings, especially the delay on compulsory severance which it said was “good news for the police service and our members”.