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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  • rate this

    Comment number 140.


    "...This is why we have an elected Government, so that they can make considered judgements on matters of this kind..."


    Quite. Including our relationship with the rest of the EU, for example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Winsor did not even apply for this job until he was 'headhunted' for it. No surprises that he then becomes the preferred candidate.

    He produced two police reform reports that are claimed to be independent, but spookily echo the words of Cameron's 2006 speech.

    His law firm acts for G4S in their applications to take over privatised police roles.

    Doesn't take a genius to see where they're heading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I don't have a problem with outside sourcing, but this reminds me too much of New Labours' peerage scandal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    I have always thought that to become H.M. Chief Inspector of Constabulary one had to have served in all ranks of the Police Service, been a commendable Chief Constable before accepting an appointment as an Inspector of Constabulary from whose ranks a Chief Inspector was appointed on merit?
    Sorry Mr. Cameron but I think you are wrong again. Oh dear, when will it all end?

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.


    "...Wrong person...."


    I wasn't claiming he was the right one, but countering the police position that whoever it was, it had to be an insider, apparently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    U-Tory time! Hahahahaha

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    126. Violet Mildred
    This is why we have an elected Government, so that they can make considered judgements on matters of this kind. The Police should accept the will of parliament without making a fuss.

    What a WUM ,..,. LOL

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Re: 66 MrJimMorrison
    No, I've never had to tell a parent their child has been involved in a RTA. By the same token, lots of jobs come with unpleasant activities, not just police ones.

    As for your: "It doesn't make sense, no experience it's impractical and will lead to conflict."
    Those who seek conflict might try educating themselves, before the public are educated about them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.


    Don't think you're making like for like comparisons here.

    Banks aren't just in charge of the banks and the press isn't just in charge of the press.

    David and Gideon would probably decline to comment - as, no doubt, would Tony and Gordon.

    In marked contrast, the police are far from being in charge of the police as Robocop and GS4 will attest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.


    The banks have ruined the country economy and the Press have broken the law and invaded everyone's privacy.

    What exactly was wrong with the police in the first place, that needed reform?

    When Winsor cuts pay and gets rid of experienced and dedicated officers and replaces them with temps from G4S, you will then see the police failing and then, and only then, can you compare these

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    This man has no business in Policing and is a clear example of politicising the Police. Is that what this country wants? I sure hope not. Again another deficit excuse. As for comment 116 you forget the job they do and the people they deal with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    'Winsor is just a Tory puppet'

    He learnt the trade being a Labour puppet beforehand though ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Nothing wrong in principle with the police being policed by a non-policeman. However, I remember well Tom Winsor's tenure as regulator of the rail industry I was part of at the time. It culminated in the collapse of Railtrack. You have to hope our police service will fare somewhat better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Policing by consent. Not for much longer by the looks of it.

    The Tories seem desperate to destroy an institution which is held in high esteem all around the world.

    A race to the bottom

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    This is why we have an elected Government, so that they can make considered judgements on matters of this kind. The Police should accept the will of parliament without making a fuss.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Spot on.
    It's been a big circle but what goes around is finally coming around.
    If they don't like the heat they can always do as the rest of us have long been encouraged to do in our respective professions and leave the kitchen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    as a recently retired Police Officer all I can say is Thank God I got out.

    This man has no understanding of Policing whatsoever which is clear by the review he made of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I do find it perplexing that so many are voicing "jobs for the boys" sentiments at this appointment and yet fail to recognise that it was very much a "jobs for our boys" culture prior to this gentleman. Or does the Police force putting its own man at the top to serve self interest somehow not count? It would seem the Gravey train is stopping now, feel free to get off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Tom Winsor's appointment is clear evidence of this government's plan to sell off public services for no other reason than to allow their tory chums in the city to make profit from the taxpayer. There lies the real corruption.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    the Police Federation would complain as like all public sector "unions" they struggle to embrace change.
    The Police Federation isn't a Union,the Government won't let the Police Have a Union as they are scared of the consequences of Police being able to actively respond to being Shafted.

    Over Half of all off duty officers attended the recent protest ,this doesn't appear to have sunk in!


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