Theresa May: Ministers 'not picking fight' with police over Winsor appointment


Theresa May: "There has been a proper process"

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Ministers are "not picking a fight" with police by appointing an outsider as Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, Theresa May said.

The Police Federation has criticised the choice of lawyer Tom Winsor - the author of a controversial review on police pay - for the important role.

The home secretary said Mr Winsor had "not been plucked out of thin air" and had been chosen in a "proper process".

The constabulary should be independent of ministers and police, she added.

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

'Shine a light'

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

While the committee does not have the power to veto the appointment, 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.

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

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.

Official procedure

The appointment has been questioned by the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers and the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, which said someone with "profound understanding" of policing was needed.

Mrs May would not be drawn on their comments and defended the appointment, which was made after she and policing minister Nick Herbert interviewed the main candidates.

"We are not picking a fight with anybody," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr show. "We did not just pluck Tom Winsor out of thin air. There has been a proper process under civil service rules."

She said HMIC had become more "independent" under Sir Denis O'Connor and its role would continue to change in future - including it reporting to Parliament rather than ministers.

"I think it is right that the body whose job it is to shine a light on policing and the police force should be independent of government and of the service," Mrs May added.

She acknowledged it was a difficult time for the police as there was "a lot going on at the moment" but she said ministers were determined to make it easier for them to do their job while increasing accountability through the election of the first crime commissioners later this year.

Controversial report

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 frontline 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.

The HMIC has increasingly been drawn into controversy as the political debate on cuts to police budgets has intensified.

In 2010, the HMIC suggested that a 12% funding cut was achievable, but going further risked damaging frontline policing in England and Wales.

Labour have accused the government of ignoring its advice and pushing ahead with 20% cuts over four years, saying it will result in thousands of fewer police officers.

But ministers insist changes to police practices and priorities will increase the number of hours officers spend fighting crime rather than on paperwork and administration.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    This is not about someone who will run a force, or manage police officers. This is part of a mechanism of political oversight and public accountability of police activity. Policing is necessarily an insular industry already, it's only proper that this should go to an outsider, not to someone who already accepts the ways things are done because it's the way they've always been done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    What a stupid Home Secretary the UK has, it's so obvious that May didn't like getting 'the cold shoulder' at the Police Federation conference. So now what does she do - she gets her own back by appointing a Rail Regulator who doesn't have any idea of what it takes to be police officer to head up HMIC. Boy am I glad that I got out of the UK before this coalition of buffoons came to power!

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    34 Jon Lee. So to take your theme further, are we now going to have an outsider to run the Law Society and one to run the General Medical Council? Or is it OK for lawyers and doctors to investigate and 'police' themselves?

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    322. No_7 Is that really credible?

    In a word... nope!?

    I have had to reword the next bit as the original broke house rules.

    If you do a good job you would expect a reward wouldn't you. In the old days you got a peerage but in these more straightened times a nice little income stream is most acceptable and to be preferred. It is a given that one has to look after ones own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Not one single member of the police force thought my question #245 worthy of answering. In fact, not a single one has posted since I asked it that I can see.


  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    As someone who has served in the Police I can assure the sceptics on here that an HMI Inspection is not an easy ride for any force. They can and do hold Chief Constables to account for any shortcomings. As for the Police Commissioners, these are just another way of eroding the independence of the Police. I will be boycotting their election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    Some of you are making trouble when it is not there.
    As James Murdoch used to say.

    #302 Bellatori

    I wasn't intending to suggest that teaching isn't far more difficult than the Daily Mailers would appreciate.
    Just trying to understand why a public servant in a profession that is frequently berated crticises others in a similar position - viz pensions working conditions etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    More arrogance from the tories. I watched May's face as the police insulted her and her gang to her face. She didn't give a toss. THAT'S how much the tories care about us, the ordinary citizens of this country.

  • Comment number 325.

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

  • Comment number 324.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    To those who say the Govt is "picking a fight" with the police.... It is about time a government in this country had the guts to take on the militant Police Federation and implement the measures necessary to bring this antiquated organisation into the 21st Century. They have got away with it for years and reform is long overdue - of course they don't like it but they have to get real!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Maybe the way to resolve this is to make govts appoint people from other political parties. If the appointee cannot be 'one of their own' who has a long standing 'interest' in the issue, then they might concentrate a bit. There was a "proper process under civil service rules", yet the govt still got precisely the appointee they wanted? Is that really credible?

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    I wonder how many people in the country aint been picked on.There cant be many left?so why are they still in charge?3 strikes and your out?How many Faux Pas do they get?May is almost in double figures by now!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    The appointment of Mr Winsor is irrelivant when compared to the Politicalisation of the Police being forced forwards in November. We will soon have the spectre of 'Democratically' elected Police bosses, just as did Nazi Germany, and Redneck USA. Not to mention the USSR, China and every other oppressive regime around the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    317 Anti-idiot - what's in a name eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    Of course May, and the Government, are standing firm. They want someone to implement Winsors proposals and who better to implement them than the person who proposed them. If the Government are going to rip up the police terms and conditions then they police should demand the right to trike, which they had forgone in return for job security. This appointment is a disgrace

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    Anyone smell a pay freeze?

    Haha, this is brilliant.

    I've never seen so many angry coppers since they were told they weren't allowed to use the terrorist act to molest innocent people on the street.

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    It's impossible to be specific about the many reasons why this appointment is idiotic - especially where financial beneficiaries are concerned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    The police have finally decided look to into cash for access at number 10.
    I suppose a uturn is possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    Knowing the Police's dislike of Tom Winsor and the recent history between him and the Police why of all people was he chosen for this most important role. Even if they wanted to appoint someone with a non Police background there must be other worthy candidates out there - they were no way limited to Winsor.
    The only conclusion to be reached is that this appointment was made show who was in charge,


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