Police chiefs’ pay bonanza as council tax bills rise

Police chiefs enjoy a pay and pensions bonanza while council tax bills rise to fund ‘cash-strapped’ forces

  • As council tax is raised to fund the forces police chiefs enjoy a pay bonanza   
  • Nearly 2/3 chief constables from 39 forces earned more than £150,402 last year 
  • Tens of thousands of pounds were spent on private healthcare for senior officers
  • One police chief’s package from the public purse was worth nearly £300,000 

Police chiefs are enjoying a pay and pensions bonanza as council tax is hiked to give their forces an extra £1billion, a Daily Mail investigation reveals today.

Almost two thirds of chief constables from the 39 English police forces earned more than the Prime Minister’s annual pay of £150,402 last year.

They also received an additional total of at least £1.37million in pension contributions in the last two years – with some getting more than £40,000 a year.

This is despite only half receiving a contribution last year, with many of the others’ pension pots thought to have reached the maximum threshold.

£205,479 (total annual pay package): Stephen Kavanagh, who retired from Essex Police in October. ‘I hope and expect that we all treat it as a matter of shame that Essex has the lowest funding per head of population of any police force in the country’

Tens of thousands of pounds more of public money was also spent on private healthcare, housing and car allowances for senior officers – with one police chief’s package worth nearly £300,000.

Details come after it emerged that council tax bills could rise by as much as £107 a year for a typical Band D household. Of this, £24 a year will help pay for policing as bills increase from April to hit an average of £1,778 a year for Band D.

Many chief constables with the largest pay and pension contributions have been outspoken about police funding and branded the Government pension proposals ‘crippling’, ‘utterly extraordinary’ and ‘unfair’.

£231,503: Bill Skelly of Lincolnshire Police. ‘[We face] stark choices and significant cuts to services’

Senior officers have already threatened legal action and warned that 10,000 jobs could be axed after the Treasury proposed making forces fund a £420million pension shortfall in the service.

However, the Mail can reveal that:

  • Twelve police chiefs had total annual packages worth over £200,000 last year, including pension contributions, expenses and allowances;
  • One pay package included a stipend, car benefits and housing allowances worth almost £35,000, on top of a salary of £170,623;
  • The head of one of England’s smallest forces, with just over 1,000 officers, had a package worth £230,000;
  • Another chief constable received almost £90,000 in relocation expenses to move from Norfolk to Hertfordshire.

Chief constables had reacted with fury after the Treasury recently proposed recalculating the money each force needed to pay into pension schemes.

The change landed forces with a £420million bill on top of the overall 19 per cent cut in police funding since 2010. 

£201,743: Olivia Pinkney of Hampshire Police. ‘National funding for policing does not deliver a fair deal’

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), which represents police chiefs of the 43 local forces in England and Wales, warned the bill would mean 10,000 fewer officers on Britain’s streets. 

But Home Office Minister Nick Hurd told the Commons: ‘I think the number is exaggerated, which is not unusual for the police.’

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Police pension schemes include a taxpayer-funded employer contribution of 21.3 per cent of their pay, on top of an officer’s contribution. Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, who has received £92,000 pension contributions over the past two years – as well as a £200,000 salary – claimed the squeeze would force him to cut his officer numbers to the lowest level since 1975.

Merseyside Police chief Andy Cooke received a pension contribution worth almost £40,000 last year, plus a £171,621 salary and £16,980 expenses for cars.

£228,434: Andy Cooke of Merseyside Police. ‘The impact of the proposed changes on police officer pensions cannot, and should not, be underestimated’

Essex Police chief Stephen Kavanagh, who retired in October, received basic pay of £170,623 last year, a £17,640 ‘stipend’, a £6,921 housing allowance and £10,295 benefits in kind for cars. He had similarly sized extras the previous year, meaning in two years he has pocketed an extra £69,209 of public money on top of his salary.

Bill Skelly, the chief constable of Lincolnshire Police, which has just over 1,000 officers, had a package worth £230,000 last year.

It included £42,170 for relocating from Devon and Cornwall after he took over the force in February last year, £153,101 in salary and a £36,234 pension contribution. Charlie Hall, chief constable of Hertfordshire Police, received the highest total package, which included £87,191 in expenses to relocate from Norfolk.

He also had £3,900 benefits in kind on top of his £164,259 salary and £38,762 pension contributions, taking his full package to £294,112.

£251,000: Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester. ‘[Pension changes would leave] little alternative but to cut posts, both officers and staff’

Olivia Pinkney, chief constable of Hampshire Police, saw her pay jump by £18,683 from £147,854 in 2016/17 to £166,537 the following year. She took her role three days into the 2016/17 financial year, but this still fails to explain the huge rise. She also received a £34,356 pension contribution in 2017/18 and £3,266 in benefits in kind over the past two years.

John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said that ‘workers in the private sector are paying for their public sector counterparts to enjoy a retirement they can only dream of’.

Chief constable Andy Rhodes, chairman of the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association, said: ‘The provisions for pay, allowances and expenses are set by the Home Office based on independent advice by the Police Remuneration Review Body.’ Police forces defended the pay packages uncovered by the Mail. A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: ‘The chief constable’s pension contributions are wholly in line with the appropriate regulations.’

And David Lloyd, Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘I am certain that taxpayers are always prepared to pay for those with expertise in their role and I believe Charlie Hall to be one of the best Chief Constables in the country.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘It is for the independent Police Remuneration Review Body to consider the appropriate levels of police pay and make recommendations to ministers.’

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