I’m one of those people Tom Winsor told you about. You remember, he and his barrister friends pontificating around the dinner table about all those coppers with no formal qualifications? But unlike what Mr Winsor said, I am not illiterate, nor am I stupid. And I won’t be fooled by his nonsense that 40% of us will be better off, low morale isn’t his fault, and his recommendations are a good thing.
I didn’t finish my a-levels or go to University because, having been well educated at a Grammar School, I decided to join the police instead. Safe in the knowledge that although I would do a job that shortens your life expectancy, makes relationships difficult, changes your outlook on life, comes with many restrictions, is stressful, and sometimes very dangerous; I would be looked after, I would do my 30 years, I would have some fun along the way, and I would be rewarded for putting other lives before my own with a reasonable pension. It’s not ‘gold plated’ and, by God, you have to earn it (as well as pay more than any other public sector worker for it) but I made life choices based on the pay and conditions at the time. Had I known how policing, let alone the pay and conditions, would change in the ten years from then to now I would not have done it, and instead of a detective, I’d be an architect or a journalist, or maybe even a barrister, eh Tom?!
Anyway, this is my interpretation of Winsor 2. Digest it with the last ten years of policing in the back of your mind, the constant erosion of discretion and de-skilling of the office of constable. There is now an S.O.P. for almost every conceivable eventuality. We follow ticky box lists of things we have to do – whether they are relevant to the job at hand or not – like mindless call centre drones. Why is this? Well, coupled with the recommendations in Winsor 2, it is clear that the office of Constable is not going to be around much longer. We are going to be replaced, unless we do our best to fight it. Not only because we all stand to lose out financially, but because Winsor 2, the Conservatives, and ACPO, are going to ruin one of the only good things left in this Country of ours. One of the last things I am proud of. They have sold us down the river for thirty pieces of silver.
I start with chapter 10 of 10, because the preceding chapters make reference to something critical contained right at the end of his recommendations:
Recommendation 115 – No more PNB, no more PAT, an independent police officer pay review body to be set up by 2014
Recommendation 116 – Terms of reference for the new pay body specified by Winsor in chapter 10 of Winsor 2.
What this means is that an outside body will have control over our pay and conditions. It doesn’t take a genius to work out whose side they’ll be on – especially as Mr Winsor himself has written their terms of reference. We will, no doubt, have little or no recourse to challenge or influence what they decide, the Federation will be even more sidelined than they already are, and they will do whatever they want with us. This is like putting me in sole charge of deciding how many benefits and council houses DSS claimants receive, or a railway regulator in charge of police refor…oh.
Sounds awful just on its own doesn’t it. If we go back to the beginning of his report it gets worse.
Recommendation 1 – the terms and conditions of officers and staff should remain separate for the foreseeable future.
Recommendation 2 – The new police pay review body (chapter 10 above) should undertake periodic reviews of the police workforce…including the feasibility of attaining a greater degree of harmonisation of the terms and conditions of police officers and police staff. Where it is feasible, it should be done.
What these two mean is they want to make officers and staff the same. Hmmm, will the majority of staff be brought up to officers’ levels of remuneration or will we be dragged down? I wonder?! What this also means is that their plan in the long term has to be to make officers and staff so similar that the roles, terms and conditions of employment, and ultimately the people employed, are interchangeable. Why else would they want to ‘harmonise’ them? Coupled with the relatively recent changes to legislation such as the ability to make civilian staff as well as private sector employees ‘designated’ or ‘authorised’ to administer certain powers or functions (DDOs, PCSOs, Local Authority Wardens etc) it is clear where this is headed. Also the fact that it is periodic means that this will never go away, they will be doing it again and again and again, chipping away, little by little, until it’s all gone.
Now onto direct entry, and another piece of the jigsaw:
Recommendation 8 – from August 2013 there should be a direct entry Inspector Scheme. Around half the scheme should be candidates from outside the Police.
In tandem with recommendation 2 I think that what this will lead to is an underclass of minimum wage slaves; existing low ranking officers, police staff, and private sector employees, doing the leg work, and an ‘officer class’ sat above them, managing. A bit like the way the Army is divided with regular soldiers and the officers, but much much worse, the ‘officers’ not getting stuck in, and it certainly won’t work like it appears to in the Army. It is another way of differentiating the role at the coal face currently carried out by constables and sergeants and the management carried out by inspectors and above, so, eventually, there is a two tier system with, ultimately, G4S or whoever carrying out the constable role.
This is very dangerous. Police ‘officers’ will end up being the tier above, supervising police staff or G4S (or ‘harmonised’ constables) who will be carrying out the role of constable as we know it now, only they won’t be constables, they’ll be private employees on fixed term contracts earning minimum wage or thereabouts.
Onto the next few pieces:
Recommendation 16 – Police officers should be able to be seconded to organisations outside policing for up to 5 years.
Why would they want to do this? Send us to G4S to train up the wage slaves who are going to take our jobs? Send us to the new NCA (National Crime Agency) because they are going to take functions away from the police, give them to NCA, but will still need us to do them (E-Crime, Terrorism etc?) Why is it up to 5 years? Could that be the length of our contracts in the future? Don’t forget, the director of SOCA already has the ability to confer different powers on different members of staff as he sees fit (today you have the powers of a customs officer, tomorrow an immigration officer, etc)
When you read some of the following recommendations the intent becomes clearer:
Recommendation 17 – Regs should be amended to provide for the return to the police service of officers at the rank they last held. There should be no right of return and there must be a suitable vacancy. Return after 5 years should not be allowed other than in exceptional circumstances.
So if you are shipped out to train G4S, or seconded to the new NCA or wherever, you might not have a job to return to?
Or is it so that if they can make us redundant, one year they can sack us because money’s tight, but two years later they can re-employ us when there’s a larger budget?
On its own this recommendation doesn’t make a lot of sense. But when you consider Winsor wants to be able to make us redundant, it gives them a quick and easy way to re-employ us. And let’s face it; many of us would have to return for financial reasons even if we didn’t want to.
Now a few really idiotic ideas, not obviously to do with the master plan, but they will certainly help it by diluting the culture of working your way up from the bottom in the police:
Recommendation 19 – Direct entry at superintendent level, from Sept 2013. (The scheme should be 15 months long, with 18 weeks of training at a ‘police college’!)
Recommendation 20 – There should be a target that 20% of superintendents are direct entrants within ten years.
I don’t think I even need to make a comment about the stupidity, and inevitable result, of those two do I?!
Recommendation 23 & 24 – People who have been police chiefs outside the UK can become chief constables in the UK
We know Cameron et al love Bill Bratton, but I cannot think of any foreign country from which you’d want to have a police chief that has a legal system, society, culture, and manner of policing anything like ours – New Zealand maybe, at a push? This is a disaster waiting to happen. Our idea of ‘Zero Tolerance’ is a bit different from America’s!
Recommendation 30 – ‘Rank skipping’ should be used so that officers don’t have to serve at each rank prior to promotion.
So you’ve never been a custody officer, but you can be the PACE inspector? When will these people realise you can’t learn it all from a book. Yet another way to dilute the culture within the police and remove the emphasis on relevant knowledge and experience.
This recommendation typifies the philosophy of Winsor’s reports as a whole – that police officers should be exercising their powers, if they don’t they shouldn’t be police officers or the role they do should be civilianised. So the point I will make here is this; experience you gain using your powers stands you in good stead for roles that require the experience of a constable, but not the powers. This is what Winsor doesn’t understand (or deliberately ignores). He sees it in black and white – either you use the powers of a constable or you don’t. If you do it’s the front line, if you don’t then the role should be civilianised. He obviously thinks the same way about management, if an inspector never nicks anyone, why do they need to have the power of arrest, or any experience of having ever done it? Sadly, this is a very naïve, and also completely incorrect, way of looking at it. I suggest that to carry out many roles that don’t require the use of a constable’s powers (including supervision of people using those powers for God’s sake!), you need to have had the experience of using them to do them effectively, or in some cases at all (source handlers, people involved in delivering covert methods, intelligence, training, policy & strategy, etc.)
Onto the next chapter – Fitness tests:
Recommendation 33 – Fitness test should be introduced in 2013, from 2014 if you fail it three times you get stuck on.
Recommendation 34 – The fitness test should be equivalent to the one they have in Northern Ireland.
I don’t have a big problem with these to be honest, they’ll be easy anyway won’t they?! The bleep test is level 5.4 at the moment isn’t it?! The problem with them comes when coupled with other recommendations about unsatisfactory staff, and illness/injury. Instead of having these to increase fitness amongst police, I believe these are recommended so they can be used as workforce management tool (as will become apparent if you continue reading)
Recommendation 38 & 39 – Changes to ‘restricted duties’. In short Winsor wants us to lose pay if we can’t do a role which requires us to exercise the powers of a constable after a year. If after 2 years you still can’t you get medically retired (only if you are permanently disabled), or and this will be most cases; you will be forced to resign and become police staff (only if a suitable job is available at the time).
So the fitness test becomes a bit clearer now doesn’t it, can’t do the fitness test because you got run over, or beaten up, or shot in the face? First have a pay cut, then get thrown out on your arse. Easy. No difficult mitigating circumstances to contend with, no judging cases on their own merit. Fail. Out. But if there’s a job available you could be very lucky and end up on 12 grand a year as the garage hand or property store guy. Obviously, this will lead to Officers being less likely to take risks incase they are injured. I’m not going to go jumping over fences after baddies or dive into a pub fight if I think I’m going to lose my job if I get seriously injured, am I? Remember, this is very different from being medically retired, which he only recommends if you are ‘permanently disabled’.
Recommendation 43 – The big one about pensions. Mr Winsor agrees with Lord Hutton that the normal pension age should be set at 60. This means, for me personally, I’ll have to work a little over another decade. That’s more than a third of my original service. What he doesn’t cover is what that pension will be. But you can almost guarantee it won’t be the one I signed up for (nor the one officers who joined after 2005 signed up for either).
This creates another dilemma. I think we can all agree that it’s totally unrealistic to expect a 60yo to chase 15yo gangsters with knives and handguns around a council estate. So what will we all be doing when we’re in our late 50s? Working in the back office, command and control, training; doing jobs which don’t require us to exercise our powers? But hold on, Mr Winsor says all of us should be doing jobs where we exercise our powers, all other jobs should be civilianised, and if police do them we should get paid less by not progressing up the pay scale (recommendations regarding this further on). So what are we going to do with a generation of elderly officers? Cut their pay because they can’t do what Mr Winsor says is the ‘front line’? Force them to become civilian staff? Ignore the problem and send them out to deal with people 40 years younger?! Or maybe it won’t matter because by then we’ll be on fixed term contracts, compulsory redundancy will be available (the next two recommendations) and they’ll be able to get rid of us before our pensionable service is up anyway?
Recommendation 46 & 47 deal with ‘severance’ or redundancy as normal people call it. Basically we should be able to be made redundant before reaching full pensionable service, and our redundancy package should be the same as the 2010 Civil Service Compensation Scheme. Which, I believe, is a months pay for every year you’ve been in the job – up to 12 years. So, a maximum of 1 years pay. This is certainly part of the master plan to remove the office of constable, ties in with the earlier recommendations about reemployment within five years, and, when considered with recommendations 79 & 82, will be used as a blunt workforce management tool.
Recommendation 50 – a little sweetener for chief constables and DCCs. Compensation payments for CCs and DCCs whose fixed term appointments are not renewed should be ‘fair and more generous’ than the compensation available to officers who leave the police through compulsory redundancy. Why? They earn a lot more than us in the first place don’t they? If you’re on a hundred grand a year what do you need a ‘more generous’ package for?
Recommendations 53 – 58 cover pay scales and the like. Basically they are going to be shortened, and the initial salary will be less. Why would they do that? I think it’s so once we are all much closer together in terms of pay it will be easier for them to remove the scales completely and move over totally to performance or role related pay.
Recommendation 71 – This is Tom Winsor telling us what our ‘X’ factor is worth. You know, how we’re special because of the office we hold and the job we do. He says it equates to 8% of a constable’s basic pay. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my ‘X’ factor was worth being looked after if I was injured, rewarded properly for the danger, stress, and restrictions I face, a decent pension, the upholding of bargains made to us previously, and a little bit of respect from the sections of society that are insulated, in part because of us, from the real world.
Recommendation 72 – The 8% figure described above should be reviewed every 5 years by the new police pay review body. No prizes for guessing what that means.
Recommendation 73 – Regional pay. The new police pay review body should review the level and scope of regional allowances for police officers. I do agree that an officer living and working in London should be paid more than one who lives and works somewhere where the cost of living is considerably less. However, Winsor goes onto to say that the national rate of basic pay should only be raised if justified by recruitment and retention problems, and local (regional) allowances should be used more often instead. So, if lots of people want to join the police, the pay will be kept low. It’s not about regional pay at all, it’s about paying us less, but dressing it up as something different.
Recommendations 79 & 82 – These are really bad. Winsor thinks that 10% of the Police should be classified as unsatisfactory, regardless of what the real figure is – 0.3%, 5%, 7%, 15%, 30% – it doesn’t matter, it has to be 10%. The least effective 10% should be dealt with by considering (and therefore using) unsatisfactory performance procedures. Ultimately, this could lead to dismissal. This includes whether you pass the fitness test or not. So, if you are injured or on restricted duties for another reason, mental health for example, you are going to be included in the least effective 10%. And if we have compulsory redundancy, where do you think the axe will fall? It doesn’t matter if you are, in fact, competent and completely satisfactory, if you are in the bottom 10% you aren’t. How can someone proscribe a number to the amount of people that have to be unsatisfactory? Unbelievable. It’d be like having targets for the amount of people stop and searched, regardless of lawful authori…oh.
Recommendation 84 – Pay progression should be linked to a satisfactory annual appraisal. If you don’t get a good PDR, you don’t go up a pay scale. This sounds quite sensible to me in theory, but think of it in practice. Firstly, when has the PDR been anything but a paper exercise? And secondly, it is massively open to abuse, not only subjectively if your supervisor doesn’t like you, but what if budgets are tight? Do you think the order might come down from on high that only a certain % can be increased? People will dismiss this as conspiracy theorism and cynicism, but anyone that’s been through the trainee detective process or promotion knows – if a certain BOCU has x amount of vacancies, and the management want to keep all their staff who have applied because of pressures on resources locally, only x amount of applicants might pass the local process before being recommended to the central panel, the others will fail and have to remain as PCs. Winsor’s recommendations will make this type of abuse easier.
Recommendation 94 – A yearly allowance for having a special skill, such as being a detective or carrying a gun, but only when you are in a role that qualifies for it. So if you are a detective but have chosen to impart your knowledge and experience to others by becoming a trainer, because you are not investigating anything, you won’t get it. This was in Winsor 1 wasn’t it? Yes and it was £1200 quid then. Now it’s £600. And only until 2016 at the latest, when it will be replaced by recommendations 95 – 99 below.
Recommendation 95 96 97 98 & 99 – this is what will replace 94 above. These are very important. Firstly, there’s a ‘Foundation skills threshold’ so instead of finishing your probation and that’s it – you’re a copper – at point 4 of the constable’s pay scale we’d all have to take a test. If you fail you don’t go up the pay scale. You will have to retake this test every 5 years. Anyone in a specialist post will know that if you only do specialist work it is impossible to retain anything but a basic working knowledge of the rest of it. If you fail the test you should be put through the unsatisfactory performance procedure. So are they going to increase our training days or give us time to study for these tests? Fat chance! At the final pay point a ‘Specialist skills threshold’ should be introduced, if you pass this then you progress to the final pay point. This should be re-taken every three years, if you fail, you go back down a pay point. The ‘Specialist skills threshold’ should only apply to those roles that require the warranted powers or expertise of a police officer. So if you do a role that doesn’t qualify, you can never reach the highest pay point. The most obvious problem with this is that police have to fufill any number of different roles, often not at their own choosing. What if I am compulsory transferred to a role that doesn’t attract the allowance, for example if conditions are so bad in the command and control room civilians leave, don’t want to work there, go sick or on strike, or whatever, and police have to be drafted in to cover them for a protracted period of time? Exactly what I am told is happening at the Met’s command and control centres now in fact. I would be out of pocket through no fault of my own. This is a cycnical attempt to cut pay and increase civilianisation. I agree that standards need to, and should be, improved. This is not the way to do it.
Recommendations 101 & 102 – A public order allowance of £600 should be paid yearly to officers who do more than six public order events a year. This should be reviewed by the police pay review body every five years. So they’ll get rid of that too, when they decide it’s too costly. £600 equates to £50 a month; that’s before tax, and you can bet it’ll be non-pensionable too. So in the face of all the other changes it’s bugger all. It will also give forces with a large number of public order officers or a small number of public order events the ability to carry out workforce planning to avoid, wherever possible, paying the allowance.
Recommendations 103 & 104 – Protection officers should have their overtime bought out. Self explanatory.
Recommendation 105 – the independent police pay review body should consider buying out sergeants overtime in 2017.
So those of us who are sergeants in the Met or other urban areas with a high crime rate, or those in specialist posts (Specialist crime and terrorism mainly) where the work is often at short notice, protracted, and very disruptive to our personal lives will lose out, but those who sit somewhere quiet or easy with regular hours will benefit with a nice little bonus. And Mr Winsor claims our current pay and conditions are divisive! They did it to inspectors, they’re going to do it to sergeants, and eventually they’ll do it to constables too.
Recommendation 110 – this states that unsocial hours (2000hrs – 0600hrs) should be ‘harmonised’ between officers and staff. Another little thing that on its own sounds not too dangerous, but as part of the big picture is another little attempt to make us the same.
Recommendations 112 & 113 – These state that an ‘on call’ allowance should be introduced (it’s the same as the recommendation that was in Winsor 1). In theory this is a good idea, but sadly Winsor’s suggestion is not very good. As per Winsor 1 it’s a measly £15 a day AFTER 12 days on call. £15 won’t even buy a round of coffees for my team in Starbucks, and the first 12 times are done for free. Now, how many people do you think will be qualifying for that? Not very many is my guess. Any on call function will be shared out between officers by management to minimise the cost implications. That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? 113 states that this allowance should be reviewed by the independent police pay review body at their first 3 year review, so if it’s costing too much they’ll get rid of it, won’t they?
So there we have it. Tom Winsor wants all the benefits of having us as private employees without the drawbacks (industrial rights). The removal of our ability to influence our pay and conditions, and them regularly reviewed and ‘harmonised’ with police staff. He wants to be able to force you to resign if you get injured and can’t do what he considers to be a ‘front line’ role (ie exercising the powers of our office), or lose pay if you do a job he thinks isn’t worthy of an officer. He thinks it’s a good idea to have people with no knowledge or experience of policing telling you what to do, after a very small amount of training (2 years to complete probation, 2 years to complete the detective training scheme, yet just 15 months with 18 weeks in the classroom to be a direct entry Superintendent?!). And he wants to be able to hire and fire us as he pleases, depending on the financial climate at any given moment.
However, he makes it clear we are still a ‘special case’ and as crown servants shouldn’t have any ability to challenge these moronic and dangerous ideas, like, for example, with the right to strike. He says that my ‘X factor’ for holding the office of constable and all the things that come with it is 8% of my pay. So that’s less than 4 grand a year; for putting other lives before my own, for never being off duty, for being forced to work whenever and wherever someone tells me to, for doing dangerous things, for helping people, and for making sacrifices every day of my life.
When you look at the recommendations together, rather than separately, it is clear, in my mind anyway, that what this really is, is the beginning of the end. This will over time erode the office of constable to such a degree that within five, ten, or maybe twenty years G4S will be doing the majority of what we do now, and policing will be in such a state the public will welcome them with open arms.
I think he’s written up the death of the office of constable. Coupled with the erosion that has already taken place and the creeping expansion of the private sector into policing, particularly in the wake of 20% cuts, I don’t think there’ll be warranted constables, crown servants, in the years to come, and for that I am very, very sad.
I also think he’s going to ruin my financial future and the life plan I had is in tatters. And for that I am very angry.
What do you think?
this article is intended to summarise the report and provide a balanced interpretation of it. It is not intended to cause disaffection (in my opinion the report does that on it’s own)