Police pay: Winsor review

Tom Winsor conducted an independent review of police officer and staff remuneration and conditions, published March 2011.

Update: March 2015

The Home Office has produced a table (PDF, 372 KB, 15 pages) to show the progress made against all 183 recommendations from both parts of the review. The vast majority of recommendations are complete and of those recommendations still in progress, most are at an advanced state of implementation.


In response to a commission from the Home Secretary, Tom Winsor conducted an independent review of police officer and staff remuneration and conditions. The majority of recommendations from Tom Winsor’s first report have been implemented and the Home Secretary has made decisions on a number of recommendations in Tom Winsor’s final report following discussions in the police negotiating machinery.

Existing pay system

The existing police pay system was designed over thirty years ago. Since then, the way police work has changed, but the way they are paid has not. In the late 1970s, for example, the vast majority of officers regularly worked unsociable hours. Now only around 60 per cent do.

Pay systems in the private and the wider public sector have changed over the last thirty years to recognise and reward skills. In the police service however, this doesn’t happen enough. Skills, performance and successful crime fighting are not rewarded. Time served still determines how well most police officers are paid.

After a thorough and considered review, Tom Winsor provided the government with recommendations as to how a modern police pay structure could be achieved.

Read the terms of reference for the Winsor Review below.

Part 1 of the Winsor review

The full Part 1 Report is available at the independent review website. You can also read the Home Secretary’s written ministerial statement in response to the review.

In this first part of his review, published on 8 March 2011, Tom Winsor made a series of recommendations. After going through the police officer negotiating machinery, the Home Secretary decided to accept the recommendations made by the Police Arbitration Tribunal. The majority of these recommendations have now been implemented. This affected a number of payments and conditions of service, including:

  • a 2 year freeze on pay increments but with officers youngest in the police exempt from this
  • abolishing Special Priority Payments
  • introducing unsociable hours allowance
  • retaining time and a third rate for casual overtime
  • introducing a new £50 overnight allowance for officers held in reserve away from home

A list of changes have been published in Home Office circular 010/2012.

Part 2 - the final report

The second part of the Winsor Review looked into police pay and conditions in the longer-term, including basic pay, career length and pension age and the pay negotiating machinery.

The Final report is available on the independent review website. You can also read the Home Secretary’s written ministerial statement, referring to the recommendations to the police negotiating machinery.

Key recommendations

The final report made a number of key recommendations, which are outlined below.

Basic pay

Changes to pay that would lower police officer starting salaries but allow officers to progress more quickly to higher pay.

Role and skill based pay

A stronger link between pay and skills - in the short term, a £600 allowance for officers who use certain skills (those required for neighbourhood policing, public order, investigation and firearms), and in the longer term, for the highest pays to be limited to those officers who develop, maintain and use professional skills, and who are carrying out roles that require the powers or expertise of a police officer.

A stronger link between pay and performance, with annual pay increase limited to those who have performed satisfactorily or better, and those identified as poor performers receiving no rise.

Recommendations on health and fitness

Proposals on fitness testing to ensure that all officers are fit enough to be deployed to the front line, with continued support for those injured on duty.

Entry routes for police officers

A requirement for applicants to have a policing qualification, A-levels, or relevant experience before becoming a police officer.

A direct entry scheme to enable individuals of considerable achievement and capacity to join at the rank of superintendent, with appropriately rigorous training and development.

Managing the officer workforce

The introduction of a system of compulsory severance for police officers, as is currently the case for other public sector workers.

An increase in the pension age to 60 (compared to a pension age of 65 rising to 68 in line with state pension age for most other public service workers).

Referring the recommendations

These recommendations were referred by the Home Secretary for consideration by police officer and staff negotiation bodies, including the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Advisory Board of England and Wales.

On 24 July 2012 the Police Negotiating Board registered a failure to agree on some proposals from the final Winsor report relating to pay and conditions, including starting pay for new officers, on call allowance, regional allowances, a proposed interim ‘Expertise and Professional Accreditation Allowance’ and proposals to introduce compulsory severance. These proposals were then referred to the Police Arbitration Tribunal (PAT) and, on 6 December 2012, the PAT made a recommendation to the Home Secretary. After careful consideration, in line with her statutory duties, the Home Secretary decided to accept the PAT’s recommendations. Further information can be found on the Police Arbitration Tribunal’s decision page.

On 24 July 2013, the Police Negotiating Board reached agreement on further changes to payscales, allowances and linking pay progression to performance.

A failure to agree was registered in relation to the pay-related elements of the recommendations on restricted duties and these were referred to the Police Arbitration Tribunal. The Tribunal’s final decision was sent to the Home Secretary for her consideration on 20 December 2013.

The Police Advisory Board for England and Wales made recommendations to the Home Secretary regarding the proposals on fitness testing, entry requirements and secondments for police officers. The Home Secretary considered these carefully, in line with her statutory duties and agreed to accept the recommendations.

Pay reforms


There are only 2 proposals in the Part 2 report about officer overtime. The first is specific to the Metropolitan Police and recommends that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is able to determine the appropriate compensation for casual overtime for specialist protection officers, who are only found in this force, to reflect the particular requirements of these officers. The second recommendation is that, in the longer term, the proposed police officer pay review body should consider the buy-out of sergeants’ overtime.

Specialist Skills Threshold

Tom Winsor recommended that a Specialist Skills Threshold should be introduced at the final pay point for all ranks up to and including chief superintendent. This will require officers to pass a test of the specialist knowledge and skills required in each role and rank to reach the final pay point. Any changes to current arrangements are subject to full discussion in the negotiating machinery, where officers and the leaders of the service are represented. Their recommendations will be considered very carefully by the Home Secretary.

Expertise and Professional Accreditation Allowance

This is a proposed temporary allowance to cover accredited skills in the police service. Its purpose is to provide an equitable method of rewarding police officers who have skills which they employ in work of particular importance to the public and the police service. It is proposed as an interim measure.

In the longer term, Tom Winsor recommends that roles that use the skills, or knowledge and experience, or warranted powers of a constable should qualify for the Specialist Skills Threshold. Tom Winsor has set out a list of roles which he believes should initially qualify for the Specialist Skills Threshold. He also proposes that the roles which qualify should be assessed and reviewed by the new College of Policing. The Police Negotiating Board will be discussing that recommendation and is due to share its findings with the Home Secretary on 24 July 2014.

Specialist skills threshold

The specialist skills threshold is about ensuring that officers are paid for the skills they develop and apply in their work. The Final Report contains a number of proposals which seek to ensure that officers are able to maintain and improve their competence during their service and that this is recognised and supported in their pay arrangements.

The report recommends that where skills thresholds are introduced officers should be re-tested in them. These recommendations are about reforming pay and conditions so that they recognise the hardest working officers and reward professional skills and continued development. The report also recommends that the new College of Policing should take forward the design and development of these arrangements in a way which does not unjustifiably add to the bureaucratic burden on individuals and police forces. The Police Negotiating Board will be discussing this recommendation and is due to share its findings with the Home Secretary in July 2014.

Joining police officer and staff terms

One of the review’s principles is that there is a single police force and that systems for officers’ and staff pay and conditions should be brought into an appropriate degree of harmony. This does not mean that officers and staff should have identical pay and conditions but, rather, that any distinctions between their arrangements should be justified having regard to the conditions that exist today. Remuneration and conditions of service for both police officers and staff should fairly reflect the jobs that they do and the skills which they use in the course of their work.

Tom Winsor has recommended some specific changes to pay and conditions, and these have been referred to the police negotiating machinery to consider, including the Police Negotiating Board for officers and the Police Staff Council (PSC) for police staff. In some cases, these recommendations could align systems for officer and staff pay more closely if they were implemented.

For example, an unsocial hours allowance has been introduced for officers following Part 1 of the review, and the PSC has been asked to consider similar arrangements for paying staff for unsocial hours following the final report. However, it is important to note that he also recommends that ‘the terms and conditions of police officers and staff should remain separate for the foreseeable future’.

Tom Winsor suggests that in the future the proposed police pay review body should undertake a periodic review of the police workforce based on the feasibility of harmonising pay and conditions for police officers and staff. He has suggested that the period for this review should be five years and careful consideration should be taken, including evidence from interested parties, before any decision is made. Throughout this process, Tom Winsor has been clear that the special status of the office of constable deserves particular and careful attention.

Forced distribution

Tom Winsor has recommended that forced distribution be used to identify the least effective 10% of officers and staff in order to ensure that managers are doing enough to tackle poor performance. The review suggests that moderation panels should collectively identify and agree the top and bottom 10% of officers in terms of performance.

However, Tom Winsor’s review is clear that only those that receive an unsatisfactory performance marking would have their pay affected by not moving up a pay increment.  It may be that a satisfactory performer could still be in the bottom ten per cent of performers. In this instance, there would then be no impact on that person’s pay. There would be no undue pressure to place all or any of those in the bottom 10% in the unsatisfactory performance regime and the use of forced distribution will be considered alongside other proposals to amend the current Performance and Development Review model.

Pay review body

Pay review bodies cover over 2 million public servants, including other workers - the armed services and prison officers - who have restrictions on their ability to take industrial action. The Winsor report recommends that, like the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body, the Police Pay Review Body would conduct visits to allow members to speak directly to serving officers.

Experience from other parts of the public sector have shown that a pay review body is capable of respecting the unique status of certain employee groups in society and their lack of a right to strike (such as the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body); use an evidence-based approach, with the ability to challenge unfounded assertions and commission its own research; draw upon external expertise, where appropriate, such as labour market analysts; and to make well-reasoned recommendations in an efficient and timely manner.

An independent pay review body would also have greater capacity and flexibility to give full consideration to the interests and arguments of particular groups within the police. In contrast, the current Police Negotiating Board has, in recent years, proved itself unable to make decisions in a timely and efficient manner, and has encouraged an atmosphere of confrontation between the staff and official sides.

The government has released a consultation on implementing changes to the police officer pay machinery which closes on 14 January 2013. The government’s response to this consultation will be published over the coming months.

Non-pay reforms

Fitness testing

Police officers are liable to be deployed to any role at any time and it is important that deployment can be undertaken with confidence, especially in an emergency. Not only is fitness required in order consistently to be able to serve the public best, but an officer of low fitness may be a danger to himself, his colleagues or the public if deployed to situations they physically cannot handle.

Tom Winsor has recommended that an annual fitness test should be implemented in September 2013 based on the entry standard for new recruits. In total, officers would be expected to run 540 metres in 3 minutes 29 seconds. The level of fitness required to be able to complete this test is not an unreasonable expectation for police officers, and someone of only average fitness should be able to pass the test well into their 60s.

Police officers do difficult and sometimes dangerous work to protect the public and it is vital that they receive the support and help they need to recuperate if they are injured in the course of their role. Under Tom Winsor’s proposals, officers who have sustained injuries would be given time to regain their fitness before initially taking the test. If they are unable to pass, they would be placed on restricted duties and receive full pay for one year, followed by a reduction of eight per cent of their wages for an additional year. If the proposals are implemented, officers who are no longer able to work as a police officer due to injuries on duty would, as at present, continue to receive a generous package of financial support.

If required to retire through ill-health a police officer can draw an immediate pension for life, often with enhanced pension benefits. On top of any ill-health pension, the police injury benefit scheme for officers injured in the line of duty provides a gratuity of up to 50 per cent of salary and a top-up to any police pension that gives a guaranteed total income of up to 85 per cent of salary.

Forces would also have the option of offering those who were no longer able to work as a police officer alternative employment with the force where appropriate.

The Police Advisory Board for England and Wales has made recommendations to the Home Secretary on fitness testing. The Home Secretary has carefully considered these and agreed to implement the Police Advisory Boards recommendations. This means that the annual fitness test will be implemented based on the level for recruits as recommended by Tom Winsor.

New entry requirements

Tom Winsor recommends that the entry requirements for constables are increased to either a level 3 qualification (which is equivalent to two A Levels), a police qualification, or experience as a PCSO, special constable or in a police staff role identified by a chief constable as relevant.

This proposal would give chief officers discretion in determining the skills and capabilities that are most needed locally, based on their understanding of the local labour market and what is most needed in their force. It would also offer prospective candidates a number of avenues for entry to the police service. The final report sets out the review’s analysis of the impact of this proposal and how the review gave due regard to equality and diversity considerations in line with the Equality Act 2010.

Direct entry

It is in the best interests of the police to be able to draw upon the very best talent and leadership available. The Winsor report’s recommendations on direct entry could support the aspiration for more open, flexible and diverse leadership in the police. They would enable individuals of considerable achievement and capacity to join at the rank of superintendent, with appropriately rigorous training and development, specifically designed to reflect their backgrounds and needs. The recommendations would also enable officers with relevant overseas experience to join at the rank of chief constable. The government has committed to consult on the recommendations.

Progressing talent

The review says that talented individuals should be provided with the opportunity and the means to advance quickly to senior ranks. The police should take steps to attract the best candidates to be its future leaders, and actively to manage their careers through the introduction of a scheme open to exceptional graduates, police staff and internal candidates.

The Winsor report makes a recommendation for the police professional body to develop and manage a scheme which enables the most promising to progress from constable to inspector in three years (or two years in the case of serving officers), helping the police to draw upon the very best talent available.

Chief constables already have the ability to skip ranks when considering promotion of officers. Tom Winsor has suggested that chief officers should make more use of this power where officers are capable of fulfilling a role. He has been very clear that any promotion should be based entirely upon merit. This recommendation has been referred to the Association of Chief Police Officers for consideration.

Retirement age

Increasingly, people have been joining the police later, with many in the last five years joining in their late 20s or early 30s. The average age of new recruits is now at least 26. It is therefore already the case that many officers joining the police would have to work until they are over 60 to receive a full pension. The changes to pension age are necessary to ensure that police pensions are sustainable and affordable in the future.

Right to strike

The strength of feeling among officers on some of the current reforms is clear. However, the Home Secretary has been clear that police officers will not be allowed to strike. Their work is simply too important. Police officers are by no means unique among public servants in facing restrictions on industrial action. Others, earning far less than police officers, are also prohibited from strike action.

Terms of Reference

Tom Winsor was asked to make recommendations on how to :

  • use remuneration and conditions of service to maximise officer and staff deployment to frontline roles where their powers and skills are required
  • provide remuneration and conditions of service that are fair to and reasonable for both the public taxpayer and police officers and staff
  • enable modern management practices in line with practices elsewhere in the public sector and the wider economy

In reaching its recommendations, the review was asked to have regard to:

  • the tough economic conditions and unprecedented public sector deficit, and the consequent government’s spending review
  • the resolution by the government that the public sector must share the burden of the deficit
  • the government’s policy on pay and pensions analysis of the value of current remuneration and conditions of service for police officers and staff, as compared to other workforces
  • a strong desire from the public to see more police officers and operational staff out on the frontline of local policing
  • a recognition that there are also less visible frontline roles which require policing powers and skills in order to protect the public the particular frontline role and nature of the Office of Constable in British policing, including the lack of a right to strike
  • parallel work by the police to improve value for money wider government objectives for police reform, including the introduction of police and crime commissioners, the reduction of police bureaucracy and collaboration between police forces and with other public services
  • other relevant developments including the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission led by Lord Hutton, the Hutton review of fair pay in the public sector led by Will Hutton, any emerging recommendations from them, and the government’s commitment to protect accrued pension rights
  • the impact of any recommendations on equality and diversity

Given the urgency of this matter of serious national importance to the police force, the review was invited to publish its first report on short term improvements to the service in February 2011. It was then envisaged that a second report on matters of longer-term reform would follow in June 2011. The first report was published in March 2011. The second report was published in March 2012.

Case for reform

Existing police pay and conditions were designed more than 30 years ago which is why Tom Winsor was asked to carry out his independent review, to ensure that they reflected the needs of a more modern police force and economic reality of the country and an ageing population. Police officers and staff deserve to have pay and workforce arrangements that recognise the vital role they play in fighting crime and keeping the public safe, and enable them to deliver effectively for the public.

These recommendations are about reforming pay and conditions so that they recognise the hardest-working officers and reward professional skills and continued development.

The government has set out a clear, coherent and comprehensive vision for 21st century policing which focuses on restoring professional discretion and reducing bureaucracy in the police. We are committed to taking central government out of local policing and instead concentrating on the national issues that the government should focus on.

At the heart of our work to develop professionalism, we have established a professional body for the police, the College of Policing. The College will be responsible for setting and maintaining standards for training, development, skills and qualifications. It will have a key role in improving standards in police leadership, for new police recruits, for existing police officers and members of police staff. The Government is committed to establishing the College in statute as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

To increase local discretion we have cut police red tape, saving 4.5 million police hours - the equivalent of 2,100 officer posts. Additionally the government has replaced bureaucratic accountability with local democratic accountability through directly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs).

On national issues, we are introducing the new National Crime Agency which will lead the UK’s fight against serious and organised crime, strengthen policing at the border and make sure local police are linked up to work nationally and overseas.

Instead of issuing detailed central directives about all aspects of policing, the Home Secretary will issue a strategic policing requirement setting out the most important national issues to which PCCs and chief constables must have regard. This will be published by the Home Secretary following the advice of the police service. The Home Secretary will also have a range of powers of direction to ensure that those national and strategic priorities are met; that the necessary levels of capability and capacity are maintained to protect the public from serious harm; and to maintain national security.

The reforms of pay and conditions proposed by Tom Winsor would support this programme by ensuring that PCCs and chief officers have the flexibility in their local areas to ensure the right mix of police and staff roles, with officers focusing on frontline policing; that skills and expertise are rewarded appropriately; and that they can be accountable to local tax payers in terms of a sustainable level of spend in the longer term.

Tom Winsor, working very closely with a former chief constable, Sir Edward Crew, was chosen to provide an independent and unbiased view on how best to bring police pay and conditions into the 21st century. He was asked to approach the task with a professional and analytical rigour and carried out a detailed evidence gathering process including requesting data from all 43 police forces in England and Wales, meeting officers at all ranks, carrying out consultations and referring to a large number of reports, case law and other papers as detailed in the appendices in his reports.

His reports include a detailed description of the methodology used in his review and the government has the utmost confidence that it was carried out to an excellent standard, using all the relevant evidence that was available.

The discussions on Tom Winsor’s Part 1 report have been concluded in the police officer negotiating machinery. In January 2012, the Home Secretary accepted the recommendations of the Police Arbitration Tribunal. These recommendations were taken forward and the majority have now been implemented.

This review is about rewarding officers appropriately while at the same time recognising the longer term economic reality within which chief officers and PCCs will have to operate. As the majority of the policing budget is spent on pay, we must ensure that pay and conditions are fair and sustainable for both officers and the taxpayer.

The whole country has been affected by the downturn, with a public service-wide pay freeze, and jobs lost in both the public and private sectors, including in police forces. However, police officers do difficult and often dangerous work, and cannot strike. The government is determined to recognise this role, by treating officers fairly and paying them well.

The total savings from Part 1 of the Review once fully implemented will be around £150 million per annum initially, or around two per cent of the total police officer pay bill, before this reduces once pay progression resumes. This money will be ploughed straight back into policing for chief officers to use as they see fit, reducing the need to find savings from elsewhere, and helping to protect frontline service to the public. The proposals in Part 2 would not reduce the overall pay bill in the short term.

Police officers will continue to earn more than other emergency services, to retire earlier than most in the public sector, and to benefit from pensions that are among the best available.

The government is cutting police funding to deal with the deficit, meaning that all public services must constrain their spending. As a service spending £14 billion a year, there is a broad consensus that the police can and must make their fair share of the savings. The government is clear that savings need to be made while ensuring that the quality of service the public receive is maintained and, where possible, improved. This is not about salami-slicing policing but transformation and long-term change in the way services are delivered.

Nationally, around £2.1 billion of savings need to be made by the police by 2015. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has challenged forces to drive through efficiencies and has shown that over half of the savings required nationally, £1.15 billion, can be achieved by forces just raising their performance to the average of their immediate peers.

In addition, we know that there are other areas where savings can be made without affecting the level of service to the public. The police can, and are, making further savings by adopting an increasingly national approach to buying equipment and services, and forces can also make substantial savings in their IT spending.

What matters is frontline services; how effective the police are at fighting crime. The effectiveness of a police force depends not on overall numbers but on how well it deploys its resources. As HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has made clear, the front line of policing is being protected overall and service to the public has largely been maintained. The proportion of officers on the frontline is increasing, crime is down, victim satisfaction is improving and the response to emergency calls is being maintained.

HMIC have also made clear that there is no simple link between officer numbers and crime levels, between numbers and the visibility of the police in the community, or between numbers and the quality of service provided.

This is not a move toward the privatisation of the police. The private sector can help to deliver some police support services better and at lower cost. Every pound saved means more money for the front line, putting officers on the streets. Police forces are already using the private sector to improve technology used by officers and provide staff for control rooms, custody centres and investigations - releasing officers for frontline duties.

However, claims that private contractors will provide core police functions are simply not true. The Home Secretary has stated that the powers of sworn officers will not be given to private contractors beyond those limited powers conferred by the last government. Policing is and will remain a public service with the office of constable as its bedrock.

Published 26 March 2013