Police pay should reflect performance and skills

Monday, 21 January, 2008

Police pay should be radically overhauled to reflect performance and skills rather than length of service, according to a new report to be published next month by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr). This comes ahead of Wednesday's march by the Police Federation on pay and the Flanagan Review of Policing, which is due to publish its final recommendations early next month.

Ippr's report shows that the pay of individual police officers increases irrespective of performance and skill-levels. The current pay system gives an annual pay increase of between two and six per cent for the first ten years of service on top of the award set by the Police Arbitration Tribunal. ippr argues that this system does not reward expertise and discourages officers from developing much-needed specialist skills, such as tackling violent and gang-related crime. It also fails to reward officers who do the most difficult or dangerous roles, such as emergency response work.

Ippr's report will recommend the police pay system be reformed to introduce pay bands for each rank, with higher pay for those with specialist skills, and an end to tenure-related pay increments, except in the first few years of service.

Ippr says that although crime has fallen dramatically since 1997, police performance in this period has not significantly improved. The research shows that despite an increase in police funding of over 25 per cent in real terms since 2001, police productivity in terms of crime detection is flat: in 2006/07 each warranted officer detected around 10 crimes per year, the same level as in 2001 - and for each detection the police spent around £10,000, which is approximately 10 per cent more in real terms than in 2001.

Guy Lodge, Ippr Senior Research Fellow, said:

"We all know that the police do a difficult and challenging job but no system of pay is fair that rewards people solely on the basis of time served rather than their ability to do the job effectively. The current row over pay levels is preventing much-needed debate about how we reward police officers and how we deliver a high-performing police service."

ippr's report, Modernising the Police Workforce by Tom Gash, will also recommend:

A more skilled, specialised workforce: Moving to a model of policing that allows Police Officers and Staff to develop and use their skills to maximum effect by pursuing a wide range of specialisms. For example, an officer might become a specialist in managing alcohol-related disorder, or in victim support.
New, more flexible team structures: Increased use of mixed teams of Police Officers and specialist civilians. For example, burglary teams might include civilian victim support or home security specialists.

A new supportive culture of training and development: More focus on the active development and training of each and every police worker, for example by tailoring training to individual officer interests and needs and by training officers in current areas of weakness, such as forensic awareness and crime scene management.

A new approach to performance management: A move away from remote, central targets to one where performance is primarily driven by senior officers supporting Constables to deliver results.

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