Transparency and openness are crucial to maintaining confidence in police integrity
I welcome the calls to ensure we have the highest standards of openness and integrity in our police service, and I am delighted that the new College of Policing will be drawing up guidelines which will apply to forces across the country. It is essential that the College of Policing consults widely outside the police service on these guidelines.
We can be very proud of our policing tradition. In my judgment it remains the finest in the world, and it is based on the principles of policing by consent first developed by Sir Robert Peel in the Nineteenth Century.
No organisation is perfect but every day, here in Essex, I see police staff and police officers of all ranks performing their roles with professionalism, bravery and compassion.
I also note that there is an emerging national debate around pay, conditions and police allowances, for both new and existing officers. An article in The Guardian of July 1st draws attention to the remuneration packages for Chief Constables.
Earlier this year, I was very pleased to appoint Stephen Kavanagh as the new Chief Constable of Essex Police. Stephen is an exceptional police officer who will be leading our work in Essex to tackle crucial challenges ranging from reducing domestic abuse to ensuring that policing resources are deployed in the most effective and innovative manner to keep our communities safe.
When Chief Constable Kavanagh was appointed, I decided that it was right to be completely open and transparent about the remuneration package that he receives. Some elements of that package are nationally mandated, such as a housing allowance. Other elements are discretionary. The ability to change the remuneration package of a Chief Constable is strictly limited, and it is difficult to reward exceptional performance. This seems unnecessarily restrictive.
On Chief Constable Kavanagh’s appointment, I stated that I would welcome a fundamental review of Chief Officer allowances and remuneration arrangements to ensure that they are both appropriate and sufficiently flexible for the times in which we live. I am happy to renew that call today, as I am aware that there appear to be a variety of different practices across the country. I believe there should be clearly laid out guidelines for best practice applicable to all forces in England and Wales.
As an example, the Statement of Accounts for the Essex Police Authority for 2009-10 reveals that a previous Chief Constable of Essex Police was paid significant bonuses and allowances, although the detail is not always clear. For instance, in 2008-9, the then Chief Constable was paid £50,582 in bonuses and £25,982 in expenses allowances, taking his remuneration up to £215,896. In 2009-10, the Chief Constable received £37,105 in salary, but was awarded £60,071 in bonuses and £15,434 in expenses allowances. That Chief Constable retired from Essex Police in July 2009, but if he had served a full year, his salary plus bonuses and allowances would have totalled £220,015 according to the Statement of Accounts.
I am advised by Essex Police finance department that the then Chief Constable received two payments which were outside the national Police Negotiating Board agreements. These were described as “retention payments” amounting to £30,000 in each of 2008-9 and 2009-10, and formed part of the overall bonus figure. Those decisions were made by the then Police Authority. However, much of the rationale for their decision making is not in the public domain. In the interests of transparency and openness my judgement is that, in future, it should be.
As Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, I consider it essential that we have complete openness and transparency about the remuneration we pay to all our officers, including Chief Officers. It is a vital part of ensuring the continuation of trust and respect on which our policing tradition is based.
In any future discussion about Chief Officer remuneration, I consider it important that all allowances and bonuses are included so we can make life-for-like comparisons across forces.
Therefore, I am renewing my call for a national review of Chief Officer allowances and bonuses to guarantee consistency and accountability, and reinforce public trust. I would also encourage all Police and Crime Commissioners and all Chief Constables to ensure that full details of our remuneration and allowances are published to demonstrate our integrity.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex