Police officers pocket £24m of bonuses ‘just for doing their jobs’
SCOTLAND’S cash-strapped police forces have paid out almost £24 million in bonuses to officers since the start of the recession, new figures have revealed.
The vast majority were paid to officers below superintendent rank at Strathclyde, Scotland’s largest force, who have received £22.2m since April 2008.
The new chief constable of Scotland, Stephen House, received the biggest single payment of £25,150, on top of his salary, while heading up Strathclyde Police in 2008-09.
The government hopes the merger of eight Scottish forces into one will save £1.7 billion over 15 years. The bonuses have been paid despite Scottish forces being challenged to make huge savings.
Jobs which have merited special rewards have included clearing snow, attending the scene of a car accident, and duties as vague as “working on a police operation”, according to a Freedom of Information response.
Scotland’s top brass – officers ranked superintendent or above – were paid £1,281,087 in bonuses between April 2008 and February this year.
Jonathan Isaby, of the group TaxpayerScotland, said: “As is too often the case in the public sector, this appears to be yet another example of bonuses being handed out as a matter of course to all and sundry, just for doing their job rather than as a reward to a few who have performed exceptionally.
“When budgets are so tight and there is a public sector pay freeze, taxpayers across Scotland will rightly be asking how these bonuses can be justified.”
In contrast to Strathclyde, five of the other Scottish forces paid out more in bonuses to officers ranked superintendent or higher, than to all of those of lesser ranks.
The biggest contrast was at Tayside, where senior officers were given £231,238 compared to £8,975 paid out to the rest.
At Grampian, senior officers got £159,248 compared to frontline staff who received £27,760.
In two cases, frontline staff received no bonuses at all while higher ranks got thousands of pounds.
Northern Constabulary handed senior staff £55,479 and Dumfries and Galloway gave top brass £28,092.
Glasgow North West MP John Robertson said: “I think this is completely the wrong way of going about this. Rather than giving out bonuses, we should be looking into giving officers a pay rise for the risks they take to protect us every day.”
Lothian and Borders Police said bonuses could be paid for unpleasant or exceptional work.
A spokesman said: “Payments [were] made for unpleasant jobs such as handling/fingerprinting badly decomposed or physically traumatised corpses; also for operational incidents and operations where the person encountered exceptional demands and circumstances.”
A spokeswoman for Northern Constabulary said only a minority of ranks received additional payments. Some senior officers in Strathclyde, Central Scotland and Fife have foregone bonuses in recent years.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland declined to be drawn on the amounts paid out. A spokesman said: “Bonuses for senior officers are a matter for individual chief constables and their respective police authorities.
“Since 2007 bonuses are part of the senior officer contract. Deputy and assistant chief constables have bonuses as part of their pay package.”
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