May’s police choice: ‘I promise I’ll stand up to her’
By Georgie Keate
The man chosen by the home secretary to scrutinise the police force has promised he will stand up to her while doing his job.
The government has been criticised for suggesting Tom Winsor, who wrote the review of police pay and conditions, be made chief inspector of constabulary, where he will be responsible for overseeing the implementation his own recommendations.
"If the home secretary decided that appointing me would lead to the production of a meek and complacent regulator then she's going to be disappointed," he told MPs on the home affairs committee today.
Mr Winsor also saw off an attack on his role as an independent inspector by describing the times he ‘stood down’ Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling over policy disagreements when he was the UK rail regulator.
But officers hoping for a more conciliatory performance from the White & Case lawyer will be sorely disappointed.
“They will see my kinder side as long as the serve in the public interest," he said of the police force, ominously.
Over 31,000 rank and file police set up the ‘Anti-Winsor Network’ after the final part of his report was released in March 2012, claiming it undermined the foundation of British policing.
The report suggested cutting £1.1 billion from police pay over three years and redirecting funds back to the front line.
Writing in politics.co.uk, chair of the constables committee of the Police Federation Julie Nesbit said: "Mr Winsor is going to have a huge job winning the respect of police officers, who have just been told that they must work longer, pay more and get less in retirement – assuming that they're not sacked or made redundant under his proposals."
Police minister Nick Herbert also appeared before the committee and attacked police organisations for their campaign against Mr Winsor.
“There has been something of a campaign against Mr Winsor. It was aggressive, disgraceful and unacceptable," he said.
"Do we not choose the best candidate simply because there is a campaign against him?”
In reply to the committee’s concerns that the home secretary’s decision was an ‘act of defiance’ against opposition to the reforms suggested in the report, Mr Herbert said: “We chose the strongest candidate for the job.”
The police minister also said that the Home Office has employed a recruitment firm to headhunt candidates for the job to ask them to apply. “We did not directly approach him,” Mr Herbert asserted.
He outlined the evolving role of the Chief Inspector as ‘fiercely independent’, acting in the public interest and answerable to parliament, not government. “He will not be the private advisor to the home secretary,” the minister said.
Mr Windsor’s controversial recommendations for he police force included linking pay to performance rather than time, easing redundancy rules, fast tracking promising recruits and a mandatory fitness test for all officers.