Benefit not shared by other senior public sector staff

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THE Chief Police Officers Staff Association said its publicly-funded personal legal cover was similar to that provided to other senior officials in the public sector but checks with local authority chief executives and senior managers in the NHS indicated this is not the case.

David Griffin, vice president of CPOSA, suggested the arrangement was commonplace but similar professional bodies and trade unions elsewhere said officials paid their own way.

The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) and the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives (ALACE) both confirmed they did not provide personal legal cover to their members.

SOLACE said members’ subscription fees, which vary from £95 to £500 depending on the size of the local authority, can be paid by councils but not all do so.

ALACE said its subscription fee of £300 was paid by its members.

Managers in Partnership, the trade union for health service managers including chief executives, said it did provide legal support for members but that subscription fees supporting that cover were all paid by members themselves.

Doctors pay for their own legal cover through specialist bodies like the Medical Defence Union. The MDU can charge up to several thousands of pounds for specialists to cover professional negligence cases but doctors pay their own fees.

For employment disputes, doctors are represented by their trade union, the British Medical Association, but similarly they pay their own membership fees.

The pay available to senior officials working for councils or the NHS and to doctors is similar to that paid to chief police officers.

CPOSA represents the interests of the 350 most senior police staff in the country.

Its members are nearly all serving officers at assistant chief constable rank and above though some of the most senior civilian staff at police forces have also joined CPOSA’s ranks.

Assistant chiefs typically earn around £100,000 a year while chief constables’ salaries are considerably higher. Regionally, West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison is the highest paid at £ 169,000 while nationally, the Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe receives £260,000.

Despite earning more than a quarter of a million pounds a year, the Met pays for the commissioner’s personal legal cover as it does for the 36 other chief officers at commander level or above who are members of CPOSA.

The total amount paid by the country’s biggest police force runs to more than £80,000.

The Met does not pay the officers’ £275 CPOSA membership fee but many police authorities do. Every force in Yorkshire, plus neighbouring Cleveland, pays the fee along with £2,197 in personal legal insurance for each chief officer. Totals were not available for every force but West Yorkshire, which pays the fees for seven chief officers, gave £17,304 to CPOSA for the current financial year.

Cleveland Police have paid the same amount for the same number of officers, though the number includes both suspended chief officers – chief constable Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard.