The End Of British Policing As We Know It

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 | in Criminal law, Miscellany, Public law

I’ve been watching the reaction by serving police constables across the country to Theresa May’s indication that police pensions will be drastically reduced – and they’re not happy.

The Police pension scheme was last reviewed in 2006 – and, “due to the harsh economic conditions”, it was re-visited just last year -  along with every other aspect of policing by “independent reviewer” Tom Winsor.

We congratulate Mr Winsor on his subsequent appointment as the new  Chief Inspector of Constabulary  and understand he is the first not to come from a policing background to hold that position- ever.

This makes him a bit like Chris Grayling, the first Lord Chancellor who’s never been a lawyer.

As can be seen from Winsor’s Part 2 Report,  it’s the constables who joined the police before 2006 who are completely having the rug pulled out from under them. It’s not merely a matter of kicking in a few extra percent per month into the pension pot – we’re talking about the 30 year service goal-post being moved to age 60 – and monthly pension payments to be severely reduced.

On September 11, let’s pause and consider how many 60 year old people you know could and would run towards those towers to save others? How many 60 year olds do you want on the front line for the next riot?

So find me this hypothetical 60 year old cop. The woman or man whose put their life on the line on a daily basis, the cop who works over-time with no remuneration, the cop who clocks on every time they sit on Public transport and is expected to run toward trouble – is this Government really telling us these cops only merit a £7,000.00 per year pension?

For the promise of £7,000.00 per year “jam tomorrow” dotage pocket money, constables are wondering why not get the same deal by being a lesser paid, but better pensioned, Public sector desk jockey? Perhaps the canny ones will be G4S field-masters and cash in on outsourced Government contracts.

I don’t understand Winsor’s approach. On the one hand, he says police need to see themselves as professionals, like lawyers and doctors – and on the other, Winsor’s stripping away any incentive to treat the job as a career with the introduction of fixed-term contracts, “performance” based pay (how is peaceful relations on the streets quantified? Number of arrests?) and stripped out pensions.

Pensions not worth mentioning, which cannot be collected until 60 in any event, coupled with low wages, contract working and daily danger is only going to attract young people at a loose end for a few years, rather than educated adults with any loyalty to the Police or the criminal justice system.

I don’t think most Britons want their police to have a clock on/clock off approach to work. And I don’t think most people want companies such as SERCO and G4S discharging any more Public law duties.

Tom Winsor’s Police pension “reform”isn’t about pay. It’s about resurrecting  David Cameron’s 1993 Sheehy Report “vision” for policing – which Michael Howard wisely put the kibosh on only months after Messrs Cameron & Co published it.

Which politician is going to step up and save British policing from being dismantled?

If you say, “Boris”, you need to have a look at Jenny Jones (yes, Jenny Jones) eviscerating him and the Tory myth of the “backroom police” fat to be cut.

As one officer said on Twitter:

“Missing the point. There won’t be any 60yr old coppers – redundancy through injury/fitness = pension savings”!

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