Cash-strapped West Midlands Police paid out more than £5 million in bonuses to its officers over the past year, it was revealed today.
The move saw the force, which is trying to save £126m because of biting government spending cuts, make payouts to thousands of officers. An overall spend of £5.1m was made through 6,627 so-called special priority payments, for distressing or difficult roles, and ‘competency related threshold payments’ between April last year and this March.
Every police officer of inspector rank or below was allowed to apply for competency related threshold payments of £1,122 a year.
The payouts, dubbed the ‘grab a grand’ payment, were supposed to allow officers at the top of their pay scale, who can only earn more money by being promoted, to top-up their salary.
But it had instead become practically an automatic annual payment for most eligible officers..
Payouts were made to those who were able to demonstrate “high professional competence, commitment to the job and a willingness to learn and adjust to new circumstances”.
The bonuses differed to the special priority payments that were made to officers who had to carry a significantly higher responsibility level than the norm f or have demanding working conditions or working environments.
But because of cuts, no new applications are being accepted and it is expected to stay that way for at least two years, although officers who have been receiving the payments continue to do so.
Head of Human Resources at West Midlands Police Chris Rowson, said: “West Midlands Police has to pay special priority payments and competency related threshold payments as part of a national agreement under police regulations.
“The money is paid to highly trained and experienced officers, whose work is often dangerous.”