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Winsor: “Officers remain wrong on my pay changes”

2013 Police Federation Conference, Bournemouth, Dorset, Jason Bye, 15/05/2013Tom Winsor remains “startled” at how police officers reacted to his pay and conditions reports – and believes much of their anger was based on “misapprehension”.

Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee Mr Winsor, who is now HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, also said he “was surprised at the level of hostility” he received after wearing a ceremonial police uniform at this year’s National Police Memorial Day.

“I knew it would be controversial and misunderstood by some people but I had not anticipated the ferocity,” he said.

Mr Winsor reiterated to MPs his belief that 60 per cent of serving officers were in line for a pay rise if all his proposals had been agreed.

Widely reported claims that officers would be around £4,000 worse off thanks to his pay and conditions changes had also been false, he said. And he brought up the police pay protest march in May 2012.

Mr Winsor said: “I was startled there were 30,000 police officers on the streets of London protesting against (his proposals) because a very significant proportion of police officers, we estimated  60 per cent of them, were due for a pay rise – even after a progression freeze, higher pension contributions and a two-year pay freeze.

“I was disappointed that – whereas the professional instincts of police officers are to look for the primary evidence and hard facts and ignore hearsay – I fear that in too many cases, some police officers swallowed the hearsay and failed to look for the evidence.”

Mr Winsor admitted that he has contributed to the loss of police officer morale with his pay and conditions.

However he told members of the committee that the Police Federation left its members with the view that they “would all be worse off”, though he added he did not know whether they intended to send that message.

“That was plainly not correct,” he said. “If you tell people that it’s going to be as bad as that and if they believe it, then they are bound to go out on the streets to protest and morale will suffer.”

“There are inevitable consequences of doing the review but I was surprised that so many people proceeded on the basis of a misapprehension.”

During the hearing Conservative MP Michael Ellis congratulated Mr Winsor on his reforms.

In response to Mr Winsor’s comments, a Police Federation of England and Wales spokesman said: “The Federation has a responsibility to represent the view of its membership. This includes raising awareness of the impact that reforms to policing could and have had on the service and the public.

“The Federation is one contribution to that detailed and complex debate and we will continue to ensure our membership’s voice is heard.”

Mr Winsor was also questioned during the hour long session on 17 December about his decision to wear the ceremonial uniform to National Police Memorial Day in September, which angered many officers.

When committee Chairman Keith Vaz asked whether he would wear it again, Mr Winsor said he had not decided yet.

Date posted: December 19, 2013

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