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Police pay rises Met by opposition

ACTING CHIEF CONSTABLE BOB AYLING: says force's hand has been tied in the way it has been able to distribute money
ACTING CHIEF CONSTABLE BOB AYLING: says force's hand has been tied in the way it has been able to distribute money

PAYING beat officers extra cash in areas of Kent bordering London in a bid to halt a recruitment crises could prove disastrous, it has been claimed.

Ian Pointon, chairman of the Kent Police Federation, made the comment at an open meeting held at The Ramada Hotel at Hollingbourne.

Members of the Kent Police Authority have agreed to pay police officers in North Kent and Medway an additional allowance to encourage them to stay with the force and not join the Metropolitan Police. Other areas of the county may also be included but this will depend on further discussions to be held by the authority in the coming months.

However, under existing force rules there is a ceiling of 30 per cent on the number of officers who can benefit from the scheme.

The exact sum to be offered to officers has not yet been worked out, but it has been agreed that it will come into effect from January.

In the first six months of this year 26 officers have quit Kent to join the Metropolitan Police compared to 24 during the whole of last year. A number of other officers have reportedly put their names forward for transfer because of better pay and scope for promotion.

Mr Pointon, in the presence of Acting Chief Constable Bob Ayling and KPA chairman John Palmer said the move, while understandable, would cause more harm than good.

He stressed: "I fully understand the need for the force and police authority to try and resolve the retention problems in North Kent and Medway. To run out of officers in those areas and stop policing is not an option. I am deeply sympathetic to the situation in which we now find ourselves.

"Special Priority Payments which only 30 per cent of officers are allowed to receive under Home Office rules are already proving divisive.

"Paying them on a geographical basis has the potential for disaster. What message does it send to those officers in the rest of the county struggling to make ends meet?

"Do you simply move the retention problem of transfers to the Metropolitan Police to other areas of the force?"

Mr Pointon lay the blame with the Government and said it would support force chiefs and the KPA in lobbying for a proper South-East allowance, payable to all staff.

Acting Chief Constable Ayling welcomed the offer, telling the officers the force's hands had been tied in the way it had been able to distribute the money.

Members of the Kent Police Authority, currently discussing policing budgets for next year, were also battling to avoid increasing its portion of council tax bills significantly next year.

He said: "It is a dilemma for us. I recognise it is divisive and unpopular with officers but its not an option to opt out and not take difficult decisions. We had to do this to address those areas worst affected by transfers, where the threat of losing experienced staff is felt most acutely.

"In next year's round we will be able to pay up to 40 per cent of the force but the effect of the rules prevent us from paying the allowance across the force."

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