By Christopher Hope | The payments were condemned by frontline officers and even a police chief who benefited personally from them. Taxpayer groups said the payments raised “serious questions” about why so much was paid out.
Officers of all ranks can earn thousands in bonuses for extra duties on top of their salaries and overtime allowances.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that police pocketed £157million last year, including foreign trips with the Royal Family.
The average bonus payment ranged from £273 in Fife to £1,206 in Staffordshire. Some £3.4million was paid out for unpleasant work or particular dedication to duty.
This included up to £500 for gruesome tasks such as dealing with a fatal road traffic accident.
Other examples included:
- £500 was paid to a sergeant for the removal of a 30 stone man in the advanced stages of decomposition
- a police constable in Brent received £200 for the “setting up of a borough gym”
- another officer received £500 for disposing of a large number of motorcycles on his days off
- two Royal protection officers received £500 for being “regularly deployed overseas and regularly meeting high-ranking people in the host country”
The payments were heavily criticised. Northumbria Chief Constable Mike Craik, who personally shared £47,000 with his deputy and three assistants, said: “Bonuses do not have a place in the police service.
“Sometimes what officers have to do can be awful. I was a senior investigating officer in London. I have seen the most grisly things you could ever come across but that is the job I signed up to do.”
He added: “Bonuses do not lead to improved performance. Our high performance has come from work we would have done anyway.”
Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever described the system as “divisive and unfair”. He added: “We are fighting for the best pay deal possible and not to have officers reliant on ad-hoc bonuses.”
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “This seems to be an extraordinary amount of money to give in bonuses at a time when there is apparently not enough money to honour even the basic police pay settlement.
“With some forces clearly struggling to protect the public adequately, there are serious questions to be asked about why so many bonuses are being paid out across the board.”
The Association of Police Authorities, which is responsible for the bonus system, said: “We are committed to reviewing the bonus scheme in order to understand if and how it improves performance.”
The Home Office said it had no plans to review the system.