After a 18-month review of police pay and conditions Tom Winsor has suggested some radical changes to policing.
The media, in full pursuit of the trivial, has concentrated on the suggestion that police should have fitness tests. Apparently 75% of London policemen are overweight or obese.
That seems sensible. So are his suggestions that -
The pension age be increased to 60 for all officers. Officers currently retire after 30 years of service from the age of 50. I would have picked 65. Policing is no more strenuous than other occupations.
Compulsory redundancy. Academics lost tenure [jobs for life] years ago. Now the police are to loose theirs. It is about time.
A requirement for all recruits to have three A-levels for new recruits. Current entry levels are very low but there are up to 100 applications for every job.
Performance-related pay. Amazing that they did not have this.
Cutting the starting salary for a constable from £23,500 to £19,000. Police are overpaid and that needs to be corrected.
The police had a very soft life under Labour and a succession of weak Home Secretaries. That has to change and it will be interesting to see if Teresa May has the guts to implement the report's recommendations. The Police Federation will squeal, but they would squeal about anything other than a large pay rise. They should be ignored.
Winsor's most important recomendation was ignored by the media. He suggests that the police have an office class.
At the moment every police officer has to start as a constable and rise through the ranks. The police have no direct entry to senior levels [inspector and above]. In the army a recruit can start as a lieutenant without any requirement to have served in the ranks. This was designed to ensure that control of the army was always in the hands of the right people from the right class.
Winsor proposes that there should be direct entry for recruits to inspector rank and above and at least 80 places a year reserved for graduates from the best universities. Also people from military, security services and business would have direct entry to the rank of superintendent.
This idea needs to be very carefully examined because it represents a far more radical change than his reports other proposals.
I hope anything that May does will include the provision of better oversight of the police by an independent body with the power to fine and fire. Recent events have shown that The Filth [aka the London Metropolitan Police] are very filthy indeed. I suspect that some other police forces are no better.