This morning the think-tank Policy Exchange have issued a report the upshot of which is that we are not getting value for money for the amount we spend on the police. For one thing, plenty of policemen are doing civvy street jobs which should have been “civilianised”. After all police people are special and we need them doing things on the streets like preventing crime and catching villains.
And so say all of us, well nearly all. Another recommendation is that police poeple travel to and from work in police uniform – effectively putting themselves on duty for longer. This has got right up the nose of a senior police office on the BBC this morning (coverage at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14780735 ) who put forward a number of arguments against.
- Police officers would be put at risk from thugs who would set upon them on busses and chase them up and down the street
- Police officers would find their houses targeted by thugs who “knew where they lived”
- Police officers would not be able to relax as they went to work and would effectively be working up to 3 hours longer every day.
- Police officers would not be able to stop off at the gym on the way to work.
What wasn’t said but came out over the interview is that police people get free travel to and from work at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £5,000. This came as a surprised to me. Presumably, this special benefit (taxable?- pensionable?) is because police are special. The reasonable point was made in this morning’s discussion that the public might expect to get some special value from the special people who get this special benefit.
Clearly the senior police officer thought this most impertinent and suggested that Policy Exchange were a mouthpiece of a Government trying to get policing on the cheap. I do not agree. I know the police officer’s pension package reasonably well (albeit not the pensionability of the travel perk) and though the cost of the pensions police people get is based on an imputed rather than a defined contribution (it being met from general taxation on a pay as you go basis), it is massively generous,
The basis for police people getting generous pensions (as presumably travel benefits) is because we ask the police to do a stressful job, carry bundles of responsibility and put themselves in harm’s way. The contract is two-way. We pay over the odds, they deliver exceptionally.
The police need to continue to prove themselves to continue to earn our confidence and get our financial support. Our confidence in the thin blue line was shaken during the riots when the line appeared to be hiding round the corner at times.
Now is not the time for the police force to be shouting down legitimate suggestions from think tanks such as Policy Exchange. The police’s currency is not as valuable as it could be and the public are looking to them, not for calls for more money but for a promise of more policing for the money we already give. My understanding is that we have a police force that by comparison with those of our European neighbours and other first wold comparators, is properly funded.
As with senior corporate executives, (who coincidentally are also under scrutiny for the VFM shareholders get from their recently inflated pay packages link here http://tinyurl.com/454sd8l ), police people have work to do and I doubt I will be the only person this morning seriously worried by the attitude their senior officers display when called to account.
- Police ‘should travel in uniform’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Police ‘waste £150m a year’ on officers doing backroom jobs (telegraph.co.uk)
- Police staff set for fresh strike (independent.co.uk)