£250,000 bonus payout to police

BONUS payments to police officers across Suffolk totalled more than quarter of a million pounds in just eight months, it emerged today.Passing exams, searching badly decomposed bodies, and rifling through landfill sites in the steamy heat of summer, are among the duties police were rewarded extra cash for.

BONUS payments to police officers across Suffolk totalled more than quarter of a million pounds in just eight months, it emerged today.

Passing exams, searching badly decomposed bodies, and rifling through landfill sites in the steamy heat of summer, are among the duties police were rewarded extra cash for.

The £262,000 paid out between April and December last year, falls within government guidelines of one per cent of the total pay bill for superintendents and lower ranks.

The figure comes only weeks after Suffolk Police Authority decided to charge residents an extra 9.5per cent in their element of the council tax, after originally suggesting the figure could be more than 15 pc.

The Police Reform Act 2002 introduced the national bonus scheme, which includes a competency-related threshold payment payable to all officers at the top scale of their rank for one year, as long as their performance is acceptable.

There is also a controversial, special priority post payment for officers who work in roles which have a higher responsibility than their rank, are hard to recruit and retain staff in, or have especially demanding working conditions.

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Finally, the chief constable may award bonuses of £50 to £500 for occasional work of an outstandingly demanding, unpleasant or important nature like hostage negotiation, or fingerprinting and searching badly decomposed dead bodies. £20,000 was made available for such bonuses in 2003/04, and £9,050 was spent.

Chief constable Alastair McWhirter said: "In the last 12 months, bonus payments have been awarded for a range of purposes, including handling badly decomposed bodies, carrying out searches on landfill sites in the height of summer, passing both parts of the sergeants' examination and working on Operation Queensbury (dealing with offenders accessing child porn sites)."

He added: "The CRT (competency-related) and bonus payment schemes have been a welcome addition for the constabulary, despite the extra work required by supervisors and managers. Conversely the special priority post payments remain controversial and problematic, as well as bureaucratic to manage.

The payouts are due for discussion at Suffolk Police Authority's human resources and staff liaison committee meeting on March 12.

N Do you believe police should be eligible for a bonus system? Do you think officers deserve more recognition and our praise? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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