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Pay review body: Staff associations have a 'single shot'

Chair of the new pay review body argues that there are some positive benefits for officers and that evidence is crucial in decisions over remuneration

The government and staff associations have "a single shot" to put forward their best arguments over police pay, according to the chair of the new remuneration review body, who claims there are "real benefits" for officers.

In an exclusive interview with PoliceOracle.com, David Lebrecht, Chair of the Police and National Crime Agency Remuneration Review Body, said decision-making processes over officer pay are enshrined within the strength of evidence presented to the panel of eight members.

He said interested parties such as the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Police Superintendents' Association and the Police Federation will need to be far more disciplined in the process to construct their strongest evidence over certain aspects of pay.

However, the panel will not just rely on written evidence - they will also call in representatives for oral sessions to probe the evidence in more detail, get more information and ensure they understand the arguments made.

In addition, the panel will rely on feedback from force visits, where they will speak to officers at all ranks about aspects of their job and the issues they currently face as well as feedback around current pay decisions.

Mr Lebrecht, a former member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body, said there are aspects of the new review body that officers should view as "a good thing".

He said: "It is a very different process from negotiation, and we have very strong terms of reference and strict time scales to work to.

"Evidence is absolutely critical to the process and it will take representatives a little bit of time to get up to speed with putting forward written evidence.

"People will be in a groove over what they need to do for the negotiation process, and this needs to change.

"People will need to be much more disciplined because it is a single shot to put your evidence forward and tell us what is important, and people do not necessarily find this an easy thing to do initially.

"We will make allowances at the beginning and take this on board."

The review body covers police officer pay, allowances, hours of work and leave. Other areas, such as pensions, will be considered by the Police Advisory Board.

It will cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland - Scotland are establishing their own mechanism.

Its first report will be submitted to the Home Secretary in June 2015, for the September 2015 pay settlement. 

Transparency

Written evidence submitted to the panel by any represented group will be made public by the Office of Manpower Economics, as will the decisions made by the Home Secretary.

The panel will be expected to submit a report to the Home Secretary in June, in time for any pay changes to take effect in September.

Mr Lebrecht explained: "The process is very important and is very different, but crucially it is very structured.

"We need to wait for a remit letter from the Home Secretary which will indict the areas that we need to look at, and there are two things that seem important at this early stage, although I do not know what the remit letter will contain.

"The first seems to be the one per cent pay rise for officers and the other is that the Home Secretary has made it clear that she would like the review body to look, from a long term view, at the reward and package for police officers and make sure that this supports a model workforce to enable forces to meet future challenges."

Crucial evidence

The pay review body, which was created in January but only took over from the Police Negotiating Board in September, has already produced a remuneration report on NCA pay.

Senior leaders within the Agency wanted to change the parameters concerning London weighting to exclude some periphery stations on the outskirts of the boundary.

Highlighting the importance of evidence, Mr Lebrecht said that after careful consideration by the panel they determined that there was not enough evidence to support the suggestion. They advised NCA management to discuss the suggestion with the relevant staff associations and then present it again in the future.

"We will keep going back to the terms of reference and look at what the parties say," he added.

"This process has certainty in terms of timings and there are real benefits in place."

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