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 340.

    In order to demonstrate that "we are all in it together" I propose that Theresa May be held accountable to ensure that the next Chief Inspector of Constabulary costs the tax payers 20 per cent less than the current encumbant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    @312.Considered opinion
    The ‘we can do what we want and nobody can stop us’ is the unacceptable face of the Conservative Party.
    Except its a coalition and so they can be stopped. Bliar and his huge majority were the ones who couldn't be stopped ... from wrecking the entire UK economy for a whole generation!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Perhaps the biggest problem facing the police at the moment is the Police Federation itself.

    The police are there to serve the public, not the vested interests of the unions.

    My answer is simple - ban police officers from joining unions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    Apparently knowing absolutely sod all about job you are required to do makes you the "Best Candidate for the job" well if it is good enough for Nicholas Le Quesne "Nick" Herbert MP, George Gideon Oliver Osborne MP , David William Donald Cameron MP and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (Ex MP) then why wouldn't it be good enough for Windsor?

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    All the cuts to our 'front line' services (Police, Armed Services, NHS) are too deep and are destroying our country's infrastructure and moral.

    The Government has got to stop this 'slash and burn' approach towards these critical public services.

    Why not instead a drive for improvement, efficiency which will save money? Cuts only create reduced service levels (less police officers).

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    Another political yes man being given a job they know nothing about. How does running a railway qualify someone for having oversight of the Police?
    Does he know what it is like to face petrol bombs,bricks,knives,firearms,outrageous drunks?
    Oh forgot hes a lawyer, they only excuse the behaviour.
    Bit like the political masters.
    They want cuts so anyone will do who will say yes.
    Poor taxpayer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    The police like any other body needs to look at the way it operates and improve. The police are paid very well for the job they do with very generous overtime rates and conditions attached currently. 11% pension contributions buys you a massive lump sum (around 160,000) and 1/2 pay for life after 30 yrs. Some officers receive this at 48 1/2 years of age!! Affordable? Me thinks not

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Winsor is like all the rest of the public, think they know what the police should be doing. The police will be run as a business and I hope everyone is going to be happy. Police will only go to crimes which there is a high chance of clearing, no point in wasting money on an investigation. People will report a crime and might not get a response, you have been warned. You get the police you ask for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    How can it be right and proper that the person responsible for wholesale reform (whether it's right or not) be the person who will be responsible for assessing the results of the reform? It's utterly absurd and appears to be a blatant provocation of the police service by a Home Secretary who clearly has little respect for officers. Good will? It'll be thing of the past, to remember from Aug 2011..

  • Comment number 331.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.


    retired after 20 years.

    May I also take the time to return the salute.. anyone from any organisation who can con the poor stiffs to pay for a long retirement after just 20 years deserves it.
    which salute would you prefer.. a wave of my decimated pay packet. Or empty bank account ? or the recent form telling me I need to save for my retirement ?
    Very apt name by the way..

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.


    What the heck does a Civilian know about policing?

    For that matter what does Teresa May Know?"

    To be fair Teresa May always consults with everyone like the ECHR to check she has the right date before making an anouncement.

    I sure equal care was given to deciding onbest candidate for watchdog too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Another piece of brilliant strategic thinking by Govt.
    Put forward a mis-fit for the role and they will chatter forever about him.
    They will miss the obvious - that is the plan to involve private companies in law enforcement on a national scale. What could possibly go wrong with handing such power to a group of busineesmen whose only aim in life is to maximise profit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    312.Considered opinion
    'The blatant cronyism of this Government beggars belief. Jobs for the boys and don’t give a damn'

    John Prescott who made this man the Rail Regulator in 1999 !

    Cronyism, it seems, runs rife no matter the colour of the tie ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    Amazing. People seem to forget that when times are good the police get left behind. As soon as things go bad everyone wants a chunk back. Pure greed drives private industry. All that cops want is a stable and steady life. If you have police officers with unsteady and chaotic lifestyles you get corruption and you get very poor service. We're lucky in this country to have good people serving for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    The inspectorate is there to hold the Police to account not vice versa. And the fact that he's not an ex-policeman is a positive, since he will not be encumbered by a 'set in ways' mindset or by previous allegiances etc. The fact that the Police Fed is opposed is of no importance whatsoever, & Blunkett's concerns are typical of Labour's timid, 'don't rock the boat' mindset towards vested interests

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Exerpt form my local police report.

    "2010/11 saw virtually all of the Policing Plan targets met, whilst delivering top quartile performance and step change improvements in most similar group positions. "

    Wonderfull I thought! Then I researched a bit more, and found (well hidden) that the 'target' was a mere 20%.

    That's 80% of crime EXPECTED to be unsolved.

    No 'outsiders' wanted?????

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    I hear the government are keen to have Bob the Builder as Chief Inspector of Railways.

  • Comment number 322.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    This is a deliberate excercise by the government to force through a quasi-political agenda for the Police force. It is all part of the excercise in politicising them and effectively removing their independence in 'upholding the law', and driving the police towards the American model of 'enforcing the law'. I wonder how far we are away from the Tories calling for a return of Capital punishment?


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