Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 15:48 UK

Sir Paul Stephenson calls for end to police bonuses

Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Sir Paul has declined bonus offers in the past

Bonuses for all police officers should be scrapped to repair public confidence in the service, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson says.

Chief constables have also told the new home secretary to end bonuses.

But Paul Lewis, chairman of the constables' branch of the Police Federation, said officers should never say they were paid too much.

Meanwhile police minister Nick Herbert said the National Police Improvement Agency quango was under review.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Police Federation in Bournemouth, Mr Herbert said the new administration was determined to do "everything possible" to protect front-line services.

But he said "savings had to be made" and quangos - "the bodies that get in the way of what police professionals want to do" - had proliferated and become increasingly expensive to run.

Review 'right'

Meanwhile at a meeting on Monday with Mr Herbert and Home Secretary Theresa May, chief constables said the system of making special payments to all ranks was imposed on police, despite concerns that a system more common in the private sector was not suitable for their unique role.

The Police Federation said reviewing a system said to cost about £40m a year was "right".

Now is the time to get rid of [bonus payments], as far as I'm concerned. They should never have been there in the first place
Sir Paul Stephenson

But on Tuesday, Mr Lewis told the Federation officers should be wary of political rhetoric and warned talk of getting "more for less" may actually equate to fewer officers and a poorer service.

He said: "No matter how high or low our position in the police service, it is not for any of us to say that we earn too much."

The content of the talks emerged only after comments by Sir Paul - who earns £250,000 a year but has turned down more than £100,000 in performance-related bonuses since 2005 - appeared in the Telegraph.

Sir Paul told the paper: "I am very disappointed that we still have bonus payments in policing.

"Now is the time to get rid of them, as far as I'm concerned. They should never have been there in the first place."

Sir Paul went on to say he did not think bonus payments motivated people to work harder, and warned they could be "divisive".

Open and transparent

He said that, in his case, if he had accepted the bonuses offered, his operational independence and discharge of duties would have been compromised.

It is not the first time the commissioner has made an appeal for bonuses to be scrapped - last October he told LBC Radio a review of the bonus system was needed.

Three months earlier, Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), spoke out after three forces defended paying their highest-ranking officers tens of thousands of pounds on top of their annual pay.

Chief Constables Ian McPherson at Norfolk, Sean Price at Cleveland and Sir Norman Bettison from West Yorkshire received incentives on top of their published salaries.

Paul McKeever, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the "time is right" for a review of bonus for every level of officer.

He said: "Bonus payments have not been working well for some time. The implementation is patchy as it is down to individual senior officers."

A federation spokesperson said: "If bonus systems are to continue to exist within the service the structure must be reviewed and changes made.

"It is crucial that any revised structure be open, transparent and nationally consistent."

Clive Chamberlain, chair of Dorset Police Federation, said it would be difficult to bring about changes as some bonuses were introduced in lieu of allowances, such as clothing payments for detectives.

"If they take away bonuses then people will have lost out," he said.

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