AN inflation-busting pay rise for top police officers was today branded “insensitive” at a time when civilian staff face redundancies and the force is making cuts of £4.2 million.
The £10,000 a year salary increases for Police Scotland’s six assistant chief constables (ACCs) puts them each on £115,000 a year and makes them the best paid of their rank in the UK outside the Metropolitan Police.
The deal, quietly negotiated before Christmas, is intended to reflect their increased workload in the new single police force which came into operation in April last year.
But Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson, a former deputy chief constable, criticised the timing of the increases. He said: “It is lacking in sensitivity when some staff are being made redundant and those who remain are having to satisfy themselves with a pay rise of one per cent.
“I think some officers will also see a rise of around £10,000 in salary as insensitive.”
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House’s salary increased to £208,100 when he was appointed from heading the now-defunct Strathclyde force to the top post at Police Scotland.
His deputies, Neil Richardson, Rose Fitzpatrick, Iain Livingstone and Steve Allen were also put on new annual salaries of £169,600 from Police Scotland’s launch.
The ACCs’ salaries, however, remained the same as they received under equivalent posts in their former positions in “legacy” forces – between £91,000 and nearly £107,000 a year. The new deal, however, also means they lose bonuses.
Three of the six ACCs have nationwide responsibilities: Bernard Higgins for operational support; Malcolm Graham for major crime and public protection; and Ruaraidh Nicolson for organised crime and counter-terrorism.
The other three are responsible for local policing – Derek Penman (north of Scotland), Mike McCormick (east) and Wayne Mawson (west).
Police Scotland is currently involve in a controversial programme of swingeing cuts, including closing police station counters, withdrawing traffic wardens and cutting the number of civilian staff.
Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said the new pay scale was in line with the new roles of assistant chief constables. He said: “Ideally, it should have been introduced at the advent of Police Scotland. These are clearly bigger jobs with much more responsibility and accountability.”
The Scottish Government said the overall bill for senior officers had fallen since the new force began after what amounted to a cull of chief officers at the former forces around Scotland and agencies.
A spokeswoman said: “This has now reduced the total costs of the senior officer team by half to £2 million. Senior officers in Police Scotland have significantly higher profile and greater responsibilities in a single service which covers the whole country.”