THE starting salary for police officers is to be slashed after the Home Secretary approved a package of controversial reforms.
Theresa May said she was minded to press ahead with the radical overhaul proposed last year by civilian lawyer Tom Winsor and cut the starting salary for police constables by £4,000 to £19,000.
Rail regulator-turned-police watchdog Mr Winsor enraged tens of thousands of officers last year with his proposals, most of which have been accepted. However, the Home Secretary said plans to bring in compulsory severance across all ranks will be held back for further negotiation.
In a written ministerial statement, Mrs May said the reforms were part of a programme to "modernise police pay and conditions so that they are fair to both officers and the taxpayer". She said: "Existing police pay and conditions were designed more than 30 years ago which is why we asked Tom Winsor to carry out his independent review. Police officers and staff deserve to have pay and workforce 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."
Mrs May was responding to a series of recommendations made by the Police Arbitration Tribunal last year. She also accepted plans to introduce a national on-call allowance of £15 for each daily on-call session for rank-and-file officers from April 2013.
In addition, competence-related threshold payments (CRTPs) - a bonus available to those who are at the top of the pay scale and can demonstrate they are strong performers - will be phased out over the next three years.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said that under the reforms, chief constables will have the power to pay a starting salary of up to £22,000 depending on skills and qualifications. Officers can also reach the top rate of pay three years earlier than under the current arrangements, Acpo said.
Chief Constable Peter Fahy, Acpo lead on workforce development, said the police service is facing "unprecedented levels of change". He added: "Police service funding has already been considerably reduced and further financial pressure lies ahead. Chief constables must have the means available to them to manage their workforce through these difficult times, even if that means taking steps that are unwelcome."
The Police Federation of England and Wales said the cut in the starting rate for new officers is "ill conceived and fails to reflect the dangers and demands inherent in the job".
Steve Williams, chair of the Police Federation, said: "While we remain disappointed with some of the recommendations we acknowledge that the Home Secretary has honoured the process of the Police Negotiating Board. We accept that today's decision by the Home Secretary is binding on the Police Federation of England and Wales and we will continue to engage fully on behalf of our members."
© Press Association 2013