Tom Winsor 'best candidate' for police watchdog role

Tom Winsor Tom Winsor's recommendations led to changes intended to save £150m a year

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Ministers "will not flinch" from naming Tom Winsor as Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, government sources have said.

They said ministers would not be "blown off course" by Police Federation opposition to the choice.

Lawyer Mr Winsor is the author of a controversial review on police pay, and is said to be the first non-policeman named to the post.

But Police Minister Nick Herbert has said Mr Winsor is "the best candidate".

Mr Winsor, formerly the rail regulator, will appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee before his appointment is finally approved.

The committee will meet when Parliament returns on Monday to decide on a day for the hearing.


There are two ways of looking at the government's selection of Tom Winsor as its preferred candidate for the chief inspector role. Either it's a deliberately provocative move which risks further antagonising the police, or it's a logical step given that the job has steadily become more independent.

A decade ago, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary had a more peripheral role - so much so that the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, brought in his own police adviser from America, Paul Evans, to head a Home Office unit to drive up standards.

But in the past five years, largely thanks to the work of two "big hitters" at its helm, Sir Ronnie Flanagan and Sir Denis O'Connor, the inspectorate has gained a higher profile with real teeth.

The big question is whether it can succeed with an outsider as other watchdogs do, such as inspectorates for the Prison Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the UK Border Agency.

Its chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, has written to the home secretary to express his concerns about the timing of the announcement and to say more time is needed to consider the matter.

Mr Winsor, 54, would be the first person who has not served as a police officer to take up the role since Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) was first established in 1856, opponents claim. He would replace Sir Denis O'Connor, who retires at the end of next month.

It is understood that in the final shortlist of candidates Mr Winsor was the only one with a non-police background.

A BBC correspondent quoted a source as saying: "It's important that the inspectorate is no longer seen as a club of chief constables, whispering in each other's ear."

Mr Winsor was described as "head and shoulders above" the other candidates. But sources said his appointment was also designed to show the government was not going to be deterred by the Police Federation from pursuing its reform agenda.

'Most important' job

In his report into police pay and conditions last year, Mr Winsor called for the abolition of a series of allowances and special payments and for a pay system that recognised hard work and merit instead of long service.

He also recommended that officers on front-line duties should see their pay rise, and wanted a professional accreditation allowance of £1,200 to be introduced for most detectives, firearms, public order and neighbourhood policing teams.

Mr Herbert told Radio 4's Today programme that the next Chief Inspector of Constabulary would have to command the respect of not just the police service but also of elected police and crime commissioners.

Tom Winsor

  • Studied law at Edinburgh University 1979
  • Called to the Scottish Bar 1981
  • Rail regulator 1999-2004
  • Partner in City law firm White & Case since 2004
  • Author of police pay review published March 2012

"The inspectorate will continue to have a mix of civilians and former chief constables," he said.

"The candidate Tom Winsor is a highly experienced regulator, has demonstrated his independence in the report that he has given, was by far the best candidate for the job."

But Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, told Today the organisation was "very surprised that the home secretary has chosen somebody who has so little experience of policing".

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary

 Police officers
  • Responsibility for police forces and organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Carries out inspections and publishes reviews and recommendations
  • Also inspects and regulates bodies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Custom

Source: HMIC

He said: "When you look across the police service there are so many people with real experience and real understanding - a profound understanding - of policing, we don't know why the government has chosen a commercial lawyer."

The Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales commented that the role had previously always been "fulfilled by an individual with a strong and credible record of achievement within policing and knowledge and understanding of the wider criminal justice system".

The Association of Police Authorities said it would develop a strong working relationship with the next Chief Inspector of Constabulary and awaited Mr Winsor's appearance before the select committee "with interest".

Labour MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett told Radio 4's The World at One Mr Winsor was seen as "antagonistic" to the police forces because of his reports.

"It's almost like poking a stick through the bars of the lion's den at the moment when the police service are most on edge and most subject to disagreement and friction," he said.

He said he had no objection to bringing in someone from outside for the role but that they needed to have knowledge of the service.


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  • Comment number 520.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    @333. cal

    Police will only go to crimes which there is a high chance of clearing, People will report a crime and might not get a response, you have been warned. You get the police you ask for.
    Cal I have news for you. This is what happens how. Each crime is screened and unless there is a good chance of clearing it up, its binned. Even then you might only get a nice letter and a crime number.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    I think any goodwill that was left in the police was just stamped out...

    When they do their ballot it's safe to assume they will insist on industrial rights and who can blame them.

    Tories will never get back in after this term and facade anyhow..coalition or otherwise

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    Usual OTT reactions of doom in response to some finally coherent proposals to sort out the police who have been for far too long a self-protecting club (not my words). No wonder those who support the status-quo are so alarmed.

    An independent regulator - good.

    And he has even suggested that bobbies on the beat should be rewarded with a pay-rise along those who get the job done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    Winsor is probably the worst person for the job, Not so long ago he needed an adviser to help with his reports and now he s deemed to be "an expert" how is this possibly the best thing for the force???? This is one of the public services that we need the most and not to be run as a business!

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    As a serving officer I would agree that the service needed some changes , however Winsors recommendations are too much at once. I find it interesting that this lawyer has now been picked for this post. It does make you wonder if this is the sweetener for writing the report. I would have no objection to a non police officer in this role, but lets not make it a political appointment...

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    503.voice of reason
    Again, you over estimate the value of this site. It is most certainly not without influence, just check out how many responses are deleted by the moderators. That reflects the "sponsorship" by the government - a total misnomer, the Public pay for the BBC via their licence fee (TV TAX) the government just uses it for their own agenda - thats all governments of whatever tribe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    Great choice. You don't need to have been a policeman to be the Chief Inspector just as you don't need to have been a teacher to have been head of school or a doctor/nurse to be head of a hospital. he's not expected to go into operations be ensure that those delivering the services do so in the most efficient (yet still effective) way possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    Well said Wideboy

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Winsor's past record demonstrates he will be answerable neither to politicians or to the police, but to the public: he's a good choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    An inspired appointment.


  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    it's entirely predictable the public sector hates efficiency as it has become dependant upon waste and any drive to reduce wastage is always met with hostility from the workers and unions,

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    This is an idiotic appointment with Winsor's potential bias with his association with G4S. It's like the Tories sticking Jeremy Hunt in charge of the BskyB bid. Oops sorry they already did that one. Without the Milly Dowler phone hacking, there is no doubt Murdoch would be in 100% control of BskyB. This government isn't even trying to hide it anymore. It's beyond incompetence now, it's sinister.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    It is all a question of trust.
    We either trust our Politicians or our Police Federation.
    But do not expect to be asked that question.
    Or for anyone to pay any attention what you think.
    A Politician is never wrong,and it is so unfair of us to think otherwise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    This decision and the decision to decimate the armed services is just the natural progression for a political party that has no moral compass towards the citizens of this country the unfettered planed in secret and undisclosed in manifestos course towards whole scale bargain basement sale of what is a governments duty to its citizens policing and defence up for grabs to their donors and friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    To all those (which includes myself) who find the naming of Tom Winsor, as Chief Inspector of Constabulary, both disingenuous and alarming, don't fret (yet). I'm sure investigative reporters @ The Guardian and other papers are busy digging away.

    Watch out for the headlines over the next few days. I think a ‘U’ turn is a’coming down the line (they might need to use a turntable)

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    School inspection via Tribal, NHS via Circle (thought they made cement),
    Policing via G4S, National Defense via part timers and yet to be named contractors, Politicians know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    This website is one of the very few opportunities available for average Joe to have his say. Completely without influence, granted.
    I would be willing to bet that Ms May herself will be reviewing our comments over the weekend.
    Never forget that the BBC is sponsored by Govt and can be used to gather information quietly and effectively.

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    450. voice of reason
    There are clearly many seasoned coppers contributing today.

    I would like to ask a very simple question - what is the principal cause of crime in the UK today?

    A tough question, but try to give me a single sentence answer please.

    Someone breaks the law.
    Now I have a question, just a numerical answer please.
    How many season coppers have contributed today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    I have worked in the Rail Industry for almost 48 years, I've probably clocked up hundreds of thousands of rail miles more than the average person. The ORR's remit was seriously flawed by Prescott, having said that I don't think Winsor did a very good job. I'm talking about the principle of not having a past Policeman in charge of inspecting their performance.


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