Friday, December 16, 2011

Taxpayers' Alliance gets it wrong on police commissioners

As usual, the TPA is busy pushing the Conservative agenda. Their weekly email today announces another major piece of research highlighting the cost of police authorities - the current structure for scrutiny and control of the police services. The TPA claims that

Directly elected police commissioners will replace the highly paid, but not directly accountable, chief executives of police authorities
They explain that these chief execs get paid an average of £90,000 a year, as part of the annual operating costs. In the West Midlands force area, the chief executive of the police authority (not the chairman, for the sake of clarity) gets paid £109,000 plus pension costs.

Except that the TPA have got it significantly wrong.

The chief executive will continue. As the Home Office admits (emphasis added)

PCCs will be required to appoint a head of paid staff and a chief financial officer. The head of paid staff will be responsible for employing the administrative staff and for acting as monitoring officer for the PCC. The chief financial officer will be responsible for advising the PCC about their financial obligations and the impact of their spending decisions. The PCC may appoint other staff, but all employees will be politically restricted and appointed on merit. The PCC will be required to publish organisational charts and salaries of all staff. PCC staff will be able to join the local government pension scheme in the relevant force area (this is the same pension entitlement as police staff).
Police and crime commissioners do not replace chief executives. They replace the police authority itself. In terms of allowances, that currently costs about £10 million a year (taking the TPAs own figures). The salaries of individual commissioners alone will eat up £4 million, quite apart from any additional staffing or expenses costs - the new police and crime panels to scrutinise the commissioners will consume a further £2 million. Suddenly we're up to £6 million a year as direct costs and once you account for the costs of the elections (£25-£50 million every four years, working out at about £6 million a year if you accept the lower figure) then you suddenly find out that replacing the police authority will actually cost about £12 million a year (or possibly £18 million if the higher election cost figure is right), dwarfing the current police authority member allowances cost.
Good to see the TPA supporting sustaining public sector jobs and public sector pension schemes.

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