Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Police Bonuses?

The public sector continues to be scrutinised as the spending axe threatens pay, conditions and pensions. The police service is under particular scrutiny and will undoubtedly be hit hard when the interim review on public spending reports next month.

There was an appalling article in the Telegraph the other day hitting out at police bonuses. Readers of the article, not familiar with police pay, could be forgiven for not understanding any of it, other than the overriding authors contention we are getting extra money for nothing.

By way of explanation, let me say that it was the last Government that introduced these different payments. They were not wanted by the police service in general. The Government didn't like all officers being paid the same and introduced two payments to tackle perceived poor performance and to reward front line and specialist skilled policing.

Competence Related Threshold Payments (CTRP) were introduced as part of our salary and were to be paid to around 90% of all officers that qualify. Only those officers at the top of their pay scale qualify, so it is in fact only paid to around 40% of officers The idea was that these performing got a further pay increment and those that were not, did not, and this would encourage poor performers to improve.

Special Priority Payments were introduced to reward those officers that were working on the front line or those that had specialist skills. This was the Governments attempt at introducing pay differentials for officers. The payments are made to 40% of officers and reward those working shifts, for example, and those whose skills need to be retained. The amounts can vary from around £1000 to £2500 per anum.

I understand the aims of the Government when these rewards were introduced. They are part of the police pay package and do not represent new money being paid to officers. To suggest police are getting some extra reward for doing their job is misleading. Some officers effectively got a pay rise and others did not.

The rewards that should, in my opinion, be reviewed are those paid to the Superintending Ranks. They get performance bonuses for meeting targets.  The risk here is that senior officers, who have control of significant resources, are using those resources to get their bonus. You can argue that is the idea, but if the Divisional Commander has met his anti social behaviour target for the year but is failing on burglary, he or she may decide to ignore the continuing public concern regarding anti social behaviour and focus all resources on burglary so that they get their bonus. I guess the coalition Government will decide this is another good reason to have elected police 'commisioners.'