PERFORMANCE related payments of more than £78,000 were paid out to 17 senior officers in Lothian and Borders Police over the last year.
A freedom of Information request showed that the 17 officers, including superintendents, detective superintendents, the assistant chief constable and the deputy chief constable, were paid 78,640 between them.
The highest individual "bonuses" were for over 5000.
The figure was in stark contrast to the bonuses paid out to frontline staff over the same period – those officers and support staff, 212 in total, shared a bonus pot of just over 34,000.
And the payments to senior staff were an increase on last year, when the same number of officers received 66,558.
It comes as the force is facing making savings of 43 million, although it is understood every effort will be made to stop this affecting frontline staff.
The performance related payments are set nationally by the Police Negotiating Board, and are linked to a wide range of "objectives" which can be measured, covering everything from gaining a specific qualification in a certain area of police work to hitting a crime-solving rate or crime reduction target, or even managing to meet or reduce the operating budget of a department.
However, the increase in payments is likely to raise eyebrows, coming in a year which saw Lothian and Borders Police record the worst crime-solving rate in Scotland of 45 per cent.
The FOI request was made by local resident Michael Traill, 27, a council worker from Portobello, who previously highlighted the amount the local force were spending on travel around the UK and internationally.
He said: "Scottish Police forces are facing budgetary pressures like never before and it really sits uneasy that money isn't being spent fighting crime and providing resources for under pressure frontline staff but lining the pockets of already well-paid senior officers."
It emerged earlier this year that over 2009/10, Lothian and Borders Police had the worst record for solving crimes of Scotland's eight police forces.
The force solved 43 per cent of the 64,943 reported crimes between April 2009 and March this year, a slight fall on the 45 per cent cleared up in the previous year.
Councillor Iain Whyte, convener of the police board, admitted there was some dissatisfaction amongst frontline staff about both discrepancy in payments made to them and senior officers and the way certain performance payments were handled.
"The problem for us is that our hands are tied – these issues are set on a national level, so we are only able to make representation to them about the issue. It isn't helped by the different areas of the police force – frontline staff and senior officers – being represented by different associations," he said.
"There is expected to be a review into the whole issue of these performance-related payments however, due to the current financial situation of the police."
A police spokesman said: "The Police Negotiating Board nationally sets pay arrangements for officers and the Force is obliged to follow these arrangements."