Clawback move over Dyfed-Powys Police retention bonuses

£150,000 'retention' payments were made to senior staff

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Dyfed-Powys' police and crime commissioner is trying to claw back thousands of pounds paid out to high level staff for staying in their jobs.

Christopher Salmon says £150,000 in retention bonuses was awarded to five chief officers between 2009 and 2012.

No other police force in Wales awarded this type of incentive.

Lawyers acting for those involved say all of the payments were made and received in good faith.

Officers' salaries are set in law but there are certain perks that can be offered to attract top candidates to the force.

This includes money to relocate to a force area, private health insurance, and payments known as "retention bonuses", which require a worker to stay in a job for a year.

'Guardian'

Dyfed-Powys is the only force in Wales which offered retention bonuses.

Since 2009, former chief constable Ian Arundale and temporary chief constable Jackie Roberts - along with three other officers, including the head of finance, were all paid £10,000 a year to agree not to leave.

There was also money for private health insurance. In total the 'extras' amounted to £160,000 pounds over three years in addition to their salaries.

Dyfed-Powys police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon says he has now scrapped the perks but wants to go further.

"Payments that were made to chief officers, which on legal advice that we've currently received appear not to have been lawful," Mr Salmon said.

"There's no suggestion that anybody has made or received these payments in bad faith, but as a police and crime commissioner I have a duty to the public to be a guardian of public money and we're taking legal advice on seeking to recover that."

Investigations ongoing

Other police forces

Gwent Police said no extra pay packages were awarded to chief officers within the force.

South Wales police and crime commissioner Alun Michael said the chief constable had previously turned down bonuses he was offered.

North Wales Police said the force had only paid salaries agreed by the Police Negotiation Board, but chief officers were entitled to private health insurance and a vehicle.

Chief Constable Ian Arundale, who moved from West Mercia to Carmarthenshire when he got the job in 2008, told BBC Wales Dyfed-Powys was one of the lowest paid forces in the UK - with a top salary of £130,000.

Without these extra incentives it would have been hard for the police authority to attract people to the job, he said.

But Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards, doesn't agree with that view, after learning that Wales' three other police forces do not pay the same level of extras.

"What we should be looking at is, in areas such as west Wales the average wage is £20,000 mark so I don't buy this argument that we have to pay public officials in our part of Wales far more than the British state in order to attract the best talent." he said.

Will Burrows, the solicitor representing the five chief officers, said there was no question of bad faith or wrongdoing by any of those involved.

He said the matter was the hands of the relevant statutory bodies in order to try to achieve a resolution to the issue.

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