Chiefs planned to change stance on controversial measure before meeting with HM Inspector of Constabulary, it is claimed.
Chief officers have been accused of a U-turn by giving their full backing to compulsory severance – after receiving a private briefing from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor.
It has been claimed that at a meeting of its Chief Constables’ Council on July 17 – attended by all the country’s chiefs – the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) was considering withdrawing its support for police officer redundancy.
But it has been asserted that the chiefs – whose views feed into the Official Side of the Police Negotiating Board – changed their mind after meeting Mr Winsor, the man who recommended the introduction of compulsory severance in his second report on police pay and conditions.
Merseyside Police Federation claimed that the Council had listened to Mr Winsor’s arguments and had been convinced that a U-turn was not in its interest.
It claimed the alleged move was a “betrayal” by chief officers, “who we look to protect us and lead us in the best interests of policing”.
However ACPO has denied the claim – saying the main reason chief officers stuck with the measure was due to the likelihood of further funding cuts from central government. It said compulsory severance could be “reluctantly” needed to make savings.
An ACPO spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Winsor did speak to chiefs at the gathering “on a range of policing issues”.
She said: “Tom Winsor’s views on compulsory redundancy are well known and were laid out in his report.
“It was not surprising that he should maintain that his recommendation should be implemented.
“The overriding issue for chiefs was that beyond 2016 there are likely to be further significant funding cuts and therefore, very reluctantly, forces in the future would need to have this means of reducing expenditure at their disposal.”
The spokeswoman told PoliceOracle.com that “chiefs recognised the strength of feeling among police officers about compulsory severance” and that it “would be a matter of extreme last resort”.
Recommendation 46 of the Winsor II review into pay and conditions proposed that “the Police Regulations 2003 should be amended to create a system of compulsory severance for police officers with less than full pensionable service”.
On July 24, a week after the Council meeting, the Police Negotiating Board registered a “failure to agree” over compulsory severance. The controversial issue will now go to the Police Arbitration Tribunal later this year, likely to be in the Autumn. Home Secretary Theresa May will then have the final decision.
Chief Constables’ Council is the senior operational decision-making body for ACPO. It meets around six times a year and is chaired by President Sir Hugh Orde.
Speaking after the John Harris Memorial Lecture in July, Mr Winsor said having compulsory severance in the Police Service would not be “inconsistent” with the office of constable. However he said the power should be “used sparingly” when it came to experience.
HMIC told PoliceOracle.com that Mr Winsor had attended the Council meeting.
A spokesman added: “Any questions regarding ACPO’s decisions to support or otherwise elements of police reform are for ACPO to answer.”
ACPO faces claims of compulsory severance U-turn