Following his monthly management meeting with Surrey’s Chief Constable Lynne Owens on Monday 11th March, Kevin Hurley, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, set out his concerns about reforms to police recruitment policy.
Commenting on proposals to enable direct entry into the police service at Superintendent level, Kevin Hurley said:
“Superintendents command firearms incidents. They run major enquiries. They manage critical, life-at-risk situations. Substantial policing experience is not optional at this rank – it is essential. I will oppose absolutely any attempt to impose direct entry at Superintendent rank in Surrey, a position shared by the Chief Constable.
Moving on to Police leadership, the Commissioner added:
“I do not disagree that there is a need to reform police leadership. However, direct entry is not the answer.
“We do not have to look too hard to find some examples of senior police officers letting the service down or failing to lead. Something is not right in the processes being used to find and prepare Chief Officers.
“We want the leaders in our police service to display selfless public service, integrity and professionalism. I am pleased that, in Lynne Owens, Surrey has a Chief Constable who embodies all of those qualities. One of the most important jobs facing PCCs around the country is to consider how we encourage and develop more people like Lynne to reach senior ranks and make sure we judge their performance on the things that really matter –leading their people to prevent crime and protect the public.”
On the reduction of starting pay for Police Constables, Kevin Hurley added:
“We expect Police Constables to deal with some of the most dangerous people in our society. Officers join the service to help the public at some of the most traumatic and vulnerable times in their lives. They have to make quick decisions in dynamic situations knowing they can be judged months later in the courts. They join knowing that sometimes they will have to get in harm’s way to protect others.
“Yet in return, under the Winsor pay arrangements, police constables beginning their service will be earning as little as £19,000 per year, approximately £1,350 per month after deductions. That is not just for a 9 to 5 office job – that is for complex and difficult work across early, late and night shifts. I know from 30 years’ experience that policing is not a job that you can simply leavebehind when you clock off. It is who you are.
“We are in a situation where, for some, it is now financially more rewarding to sit at home and claim benefits than contribute to the public good by joining the police. That cannot be an acceptable situation for a society that values public service and the rule of law.
“The public expect to be served by motivated and emotionally intelligent police officers, people who can deal with their problems with professionalism and sensitivity.
“It will become increasingly difficult to attract people of that calibre into policing if we cannot at least provide them a respectable starting salary. It will hinder our ambitions to make policing an attractive career to people of all backgrounds and maintain a police force that properly reflects the diversity of the society it serves.
“Policing is one of the most rewarding jobs there is, but we must not take for granted the goodwill and public spirit of those who join. Job satisfaction does not pay the bills. I will be working with the Chief Constable to identify where we have discretion to offer a better starting salary for new recruits in Surrey that reflects the valuable contribution they make to our county.”