Chief Constable's thoughts on the Winsor Report
Date published: 24 April 2012
Chief Constables do not believe that police officers are overpaid. We do believe that the current way of developing and rewarding our officers does not always allow us to get the best out of them.
The background to this is obviously the budget cuts and general economic situation. Just as important however is to recognise that policing is becoming ever more specialised and complex and that our staff have changing expectations. One of my biggest concerns about GMP is that we have lots of staff who want to be promoted and take on more responsibility and we do not have the opportunities for them.
So any changes have to help forces to save money but even more importantly they need to allow us to be able to use the skills and talents of our staff to meet the needs of the public. This means we need the flexibility to reward expertise and contribution and those officers who consistently deliver high quality.
On the specifics of the report, fitness test are not a huge issue as we already use them for officer safety training. If these tests are extended to all officers it will be important that they are role and age related.
It is hard to argue against a redundancy scheme when this applies to nearly every other group of staff including the military who also do not have the right to strike. I think for many it is more important to deal more effectively with underperforming officers than making good ones redundant. I personally doubt that compulsory redundancy will be used very much if at all. We still await details of a Home Office voluntary severance programme which will interest some.
There are proposals to relate more of an officers pay to their level of performance and expertise. This cannot be about crude indicators such as the level of arrests but should be built around the key roles of neighbourhood policing, investigation and response policing. It needs to be a balance between knowledge and the ability to translate that knowledge into practise for the benefit of the public.
I don't see any of these changes happening quickly. Staff don't need reminding that we are already under a two year pay and increment freeze and pay will only increase by about one per cent after that. Next month many officers will see an increase in their pension contributions. That means there is little scope to bring in further changes when staff are already taking such pain. There is also no spare cash about to smooth out the impact of any changes.
I have made it clear that when you look at the size of the cuts we have to take but also how society and the world of work is changing around us that we will need some radical changes to get through this. This is not about cutting wages or asking staff to work harder and harder. Other organisations have got through major changes in their industries by getting their staff to work in different ways taking on a higher level of skills and specialisms and operating with less supervision and checking of their work. This allows these staff to have more responsibility and professional discretion and a more rewarding role. I am not sure that Winsor fully delivers this but it lays down a foundation.
Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police
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