I was asked the question...
"Don't you think you should be on the same money as a PC & have another 3 on the beat rather than you being paid at least £70,000"
...and I felt it deserved a full answer.
Okay, let's actually review police pay...
Police pay varies from entry point of around £20k to £80k+ for Chief Superintendents (here's my source).
Chief constables and deputy chief constables earn between £117k and £141k in Cheshire (other police services may pay more).
The pay of the Commissioner is determined by the Secretary of State. It appears to vary between £70k and £85k.
My understanding is that the Cheshire Commissioner is paid £75k. About half the amount paid to the Chief Constable for Cheshire.
So, in response to the question about pay, which particular rank of police officer would you equate with the Commissioner role?
To help answer that, let's have a look at what the commissioner does...
- sets the nearly £200m annual budget for the Cheshire police service
- holds the Chief Constable to account (and if necessary, replaces him or her)
- secures an efficient and effective police service
- sets the local police objectives / strategic direction
- represents the local residents to police
He or she also has other statutory duties.
Hence, the Commissioner role is a very senior role and will have a significant impact on the lives of Cheshire residents yet is paid at about the Chief Superintendent level.
So, why would you choose a non-policeman/woman for the Commissioner?
I've set out some of my reasons here.
Ultimately you have a choice on May 5th - which is healthy and democratic.
The reason I am standing is that I believe that my commercial, evidenced based, people centric approach will deliver greater value to the role and deliver an efficient and effective police service in Cheshire.
My particular concerns with the existing commissioner is that he has ignored cybercrimes - from online grooming and bullying or online scams and frauds - and that this is where most crime is now being committed.
I believe my tech orientated business experience will be a significant factor in addressing this crucial weakness in our current police service and will significantly help to keep our streets and online communities safe.
I will also be significantly improving the transparency and accountability of the Commissioner and his / her office. As well as helping to make it easily for the public to view the performance of the Cheshire police service.
I have shared my views on this topic because I believe it is an important question. However, ultimately, the decision on Commissioner pay is set by the Secretary of State and you should ask your MP to write to her if you want to challenge or change pay levels.
You may also ask 'Would I take a hard left / Podemos-type view and say that elected representatives should take give part or all of their salary back'?
My answer is no, I do not believe this. I am not a Marxist or hard left socialist but a Liberal Democrat. I believe that merit should be rewarded but I also believe that benefits should be shared. There is a sensible balance to be found between these two points.
Given that the Commissioner's salary is about half that of the Chief Constable, I do not believe that it is particularly excessive. It is certainly a low salary for an equivalent role working in the tech industry.
You may ask 'Why don't we do away with the Commissioner role'?
Well, who would you hold responsible for the quality of the police service? I believe that if you removed the Commissioner you would need to replace the role with something else (previously, there was a Police Authority Board and various civil servants based at the Home Office in London and very distant from the needs of Cheshire residents).
I have been told that the total cost of the old Police Authority Board in Cheshire was £1.2m per year and that the Commissioner and his / her office in Cheshire costs around £700k per year - which is a significant saving.
Replacing the Commissioners would be for Parliament to decide - so that is one to campaign on during the next general election.
Lastly, you may ask 'But can't we have more police / a bigger police presence'?
Yes, there is a way to achieve this via combining various operations amongst blue light services and better joining up police services with mental health services, schools and education, local government and victim services and support too.
Lastly, there is a key role of connecting the police service with the Cheshire courts to ensure witnesses are confident to come forward and the police achieve convictions.
This is very much part of the Commissioner role - to help delivered the joined up local services.
And, it is also why, the Commissioner role is both highly influential and an important choice for the residents of Cheshire.
ps. You may also be interested to read that I commit to openly declaring my salary, benefits and any gifts or hospitality that myself or my office receive.
pps. Why not take my survey and tell me how you would direct £1,000 of police spending in your name?