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How police overtime was threatened by Winsor reviews

Money by Rosie AndrewsOvertime payments to PCs and sergeants could have disappeared entirely had a proposal made by Tom Winsor been pushed through, it has emerged.

Police officials spent a “highly-charged” six-hour meeting debating proposed changes – during which Mr Winsor had to be “convinced of the need for overtime”, according to one of the chief negotiators.

Graham Cassidy,  who has retired from his post as Secretary of the Superintendents Association, listed the move to stave off Winsor’s proposal as one of his greatest achievements.

As vice chairman of the Staff Side of the PNB, Mr Cassidy witnessed first-hand how the government and chief officers – as part of the Official Side of the PNB – wanted to push many of the Winsor reforms of pay and conditions through.

He said: “Be in no doubt that one of the things Winsor was considering early on was removing police overtime. We spent a really long, highly charged six-hour seminar meeting at [Tom Winsor’s former law firm] one afternoon with Mr Winsor and his team. Basically he had to be convinced that there was, in this day and age, a need to have any police overtime whatsoever.

“Of course, thankfully, there is a need and a business case and we made that business case and we prevailed with it. But I have no doubt that without a vigorous [Police Negotiating Board] Staff Side response, based on evidence that we supplied outside the meeting, police overtime could have disappeared altogether.”

The loss of overtime payments would have had a dramatic impact on the service. Since 2011, police officers have already experienced pay and increment freezes, increased pension contributions, a loss of Special Priority Payments and are now the phase-out of Competency Related Threshold Payments.

Not only would the move have further damaged an already faltering morale, it would have also had an effect on resilience. And officers from some areas have reported that their forces are becoming more and more reluctant to authorise payments for overtime already worked.

Mr Cassidy conceded that some members of the service would have liked to have seen a different outcome from the Winsor review, but that the Staff Side got the best deal for police officers it could.

He said: “I am not saying it is perfect in every respect and I’m not saying that certain police officers at all ranks haven’t lost some money in the process. But if you ask me broad brush, in terms of what could’ve been the outcome from the Winsor review of pay and the [Lord] Hutton review of pensions, it’s gone as well as it could.”

Date posted: April 24, 2014

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