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Sir Tom Winsor

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Last updated on July 22nd, 2023 at 07:19 pm

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Who is Sir Tom Winsor? Well, most people know by now that he was the lead author of the infamous Independent Review of Police Officers’ & Staff Remuneration and Conditions, first published in 2011.

The ‘highlights’ include

  • Tom Winsor provided the government with recommendations as to how a modern police pay structure could be achieved. Changes to pay that would lower police officer starting salaries but allow officers to progress more quickly to higher pay.
  • A stronger link between pay and skills – in the short term, a £600 allowance for officers who use certain skills (those required for neighbourhood policing, public order, investigation and firearms), and in the longer term, for the highest pays to be limited to those officers who develop, maintain and use professional skills, and who are carrying out roles that require the powers or expertise of a police officer.
  • A stronger link between pay and performance, with annual pay increase limited to those who have performed satisfactorily or better, and those identified as poor performers receiving no rise.
  • Proposals on fitness testing to ensure that all officers are fit enough to be deployed to the front line, with continued support for those injured on duty.
  • A requirement for applicants to have a policing qualification, A-levels, or relevant experience before becoming a police officer. {This recommendation has now been extended and requires a degree, or equivalent, for new recruits as of 2019 I believe}
  • A direct entry scheme to enable individuals of considerable achievement and capacity to join at the rank of superintendent, with appropriately rigorous training and development.
  • The introduction of a system of compulsory severance for police officers, as is currently the case for other public sector workers.
  • An increase in the pension age to 60 (compared to a pension age of 65 rising to 68 in line with state pension age for most other public service workers).
  • Tom Winsor has recommended that an annual fitness test should be implemented in September 2013 based on the entry standard for new recruits. In total, officers would be expected to run 540 metres in 3 minutes 29 seconds. The level of fitness required to be able to complete this test is not an unreasonable expectation for police officers, and someone of only average fitness should be able to pass the test well into their 60s.

I’m sure there are others, but the above seem to be the main features coming out of the Independent Reviews. Controversial, many of them, unsympathetic some would day, and others would claim that they very closely resembled David Cameron’s speech on Police Reform in 2006. I don’t know if Sir Tom even read that article, but he might have done..

The bizarre thing to me is that Sir Tom did not claim his fee (£300 per day) for the Reviews from the Home Office. I know that’s true because the Home Office told me.

Sir Tom has been a controversial character ever since. In no particular order, as they say,

Apart from his outspoken views on unfit cops, he has not been shy about upsetting the fine men and women of our Police Service.

He stated that the Police Service was currently “unfairly perceived” as a blue-collar occupation with a “clock-in and clock-out” mentality, whereas it should be regarded as one of the professions. I know many former and serving officers, and not one of them has ever displayed a “clock in, clock out mentality’ so I have no idea where he got that one from. I have never even heard or read that description from anybody other than Sir Tom Winsor, so I have no idea where it originated.

He was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary despite never having served a single day as a Police Officer, totally unprecedented. If that wasn’t bad enough he pitched up at a National Police Memorial Day service in what purported to be a Police Uniform, many took that as a sleight on their profession.

Last year he upset and offended serving and former officers alike by claiming that Response Officers “take nothing home with them” implying that Response Officers left the stresses and experiences in their locker at the end of the day, and that tecs took their work home with them and worried about it at home. This was blatantly wrong, in my opinion, and showed Response Officers no respect or understanding at all.

Sir Tom apologised the very next day. Sir Tom said: “Yesterday, on Sky News, I made a mistake, for which I apologise.

I said that, in contrast to detectives, response officers “take nothing home” at the end of their shifts. That is plainly wrong, it is not what I meant, and I realise it has caused anger and offence. I am sorry about this.”

He added: “Response and neighbourhood policing are undoubtedly stressful.

“Police officers and staff who deal with the many dreadful things which people do to others, or which happen to them, most certainly do not leave them behind; they take them home, and in many cases they stay with them forever. This was illustrated by some of the harrowing examples on Twitter yesterday.”

Most recently he has displayed, again, in my opinion, a total lack of understanding how the Police Service works. He said the “shortcomings” of police chiefs who did not plan or use resources effectively were masked by the “get the job done” attitude of front-line officers. If he had ever been a Police Officer he would know full well that the default attitude of Police Officers is exactly that, get the job done. It is not done that way out of loyalty to the bosses, nor to cover up for the shortcomings of the bosses, but because your average Police Officer just wants to get the job done and achieve the desired outcome, frequently in unorthodox ways.

I am firmly of the opinion that Sir Tom Winsor is being a bit naughty in his criticisms of certain aspects of Policing. The way I understand it, he was the lead author of the ‘Winsor Reviews’ that directly led to Theresa May’s Police Reforms. He knows full well the troubles and problems that have been forced upon the Police Service of England and Wales. He absolutely understands the consequences of losing 21,000 officers and the budgetary restraints imposed upon them. He has been at the very core of the cuts prior to his appointment to HMIC (as was). Now he is the Chief Inspector he really should understand what the problems are before criticising how the modern Police Service is operating. I’m pretty certain that most Forces could operate better at 2010 staffing levels, PLUS, some features of Policing, like serious Public Disorder, most definitely requires numbers. Maybe he should be making that argument back up the chain. There are only so many ‘Efficiency Savings’ that can be made. Increased use of technology is not always the answer. As somebody said a few years ago you can’t solve all those problems by chucking a few iPads at them.

So, there you have it, a potted history of Sir Tom Winsor for the benefit of anyone who may have missed him.

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4 thoughts on “Sir Tom Winsor”

  1. Thank you for providing such a clear explanation of Winsor’s involvement in policing. Your timeline clearly shows that Winsor’s latest ‘findings’ on what he describes as police failings completely ignore the facts, which considering his close involvement with the Tory government both before and in his current role as HMIC, is a damning omission. He is being disingenuous to suggest that any alleged police failings are simply those of an organisation not doing its job, as it simply ignores the ‘elephant in the room’ of the huge, unprecedented cuts to policing, with more to come, resulting in massive cuts to police officers and the resources at their disposal, at a time of increasing demand on police time and the existential threat posed to the security of the realm and its citizens. Then there is the strange tale of his ‘independent’ research and findings which ever so conveniently mirrored that of Cameron, as illustrated by the public record of Cameron’s speech some years earlier. Why would a member of a top law firm be brought in to do work this important and time consuming piece of work and not be remunerated for his time and expertise? Winsor didn’t accept a penny for that work. Maybe his ‘reward’ for this important piece of work was deferred to the some time later when he was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, with a salary in the region of £200k. What is remarkable is that the Tory government broke with the tried and tested model of appointing a former senior police officer with the stature, credibility, experience and understanding of the UK policing environment that is vital to carry out this role effectively. Instead they appointed a lawyer who had previously worked in the rail industry, and had carried out research into the pay and remuneration of police officers; somehow Winsor was considered suitable to undertake this role, despite a plethora of talent among senior police officers, such as Sir Hugh Orde. To say this was a sign of the government’s lack of interest or concern about policing is putting it mildly. Winsor’s reward for contributing to his patron, Home Secretary May’s, onslaught on policing was a knighthood; reward for the imposition of a gratuitous and onerous pay and remuneration package was the biggest kick in the teeth that each and ever serving police officer has had to endure. Winsor is a simply a puppet dancing to the tune of the puppeteer, Theresa May.

  2. Tom Winsor is a person who has no knowledge of policing and yet he has the nerve to continually spout off on what police office do. If he spent a 12 weeks alone in his pretend police uniform on the streets patrolling on various shifts without back up being sent to all incidents. He would quickly find what police officers have to contend with. I put all the blame on Theresa May and himself for the low morale in the Police Service.

    1. I’m sure he’s been fully briefed on the bigger picture, but I doubt he has any understanding of how the PEOPLE make an unworkable system work. It was his Reviews that set the ball rolling, he shouldn’t really be complaining now about the problems they have caused

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