Exclusive: Ex-police chief sued over £85,000 ‘golden handcuffs’ payment

THE former deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire Police is facing legal action to recover £85,000 in “golden handcuffs” payments he received while serving as Essex’s top officer, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Former North Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Roger Baker

Roger Baker received some of the highest extra payments of any chief officer in the country while chief constable of Essex Police between 2005 and 2009, raising his salary from £139,000 to more than £200,000.

He is also understood to have been given £85,000 in ‘retention payments’, made in three pay-outs by Essex’s now-defunct police authority over as many years, to retain his services as part of the controversial scheme.

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Mr Baker, who served as North Yorkshire’s deputy chief constable between 2003 and 2005, became an inspector with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2009 before leaving the watchdog last year.

Former North Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Roger Baker

In 2013 a Yorkshire Post investigation revealed the widespread provision of lucrative extra benefits and pay to chief police officers outside of tightly restricted national agreements.

Police pay is subject to national regulations set in 2003, supplemented by formal directions issued by the Home Secretary, but many former police authorities - which were replaced by the regime of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in 2012 - set up local pay and benefit packages for their chief officers.

Nick Alston, PCC for Essex, said he had been seeking clarification “of the rationale and legal authority” for what he described as “so-called ‘retention payments’” since being advised in 2013 that they fell outside the national regulations.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “I have continued to progress this matter robustly, always seeking to achieve a resolution that is in the best interests of the people of Essex. I can confirm that I have now commenced legal proceedings to seek to recover £85,000 plus interest from Mr Baker. As legal proceedings are now active, I am unable to say anything further about this specific case.”

Former North Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Roger Baker

The announcement comes after two police and crime commissioners abandoned their bids to recover hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money given in potentially unlawful pay and perks to disgraced senior police officers.

It emerged last month that Cleveland’s police and crime commissioner, who was suing the force’s former chief constable Sean Price for £500,000, settled for less than five per cent of that figure and will not pursue the claim through the courts.

In 2013, North Yorkshire PCC Julia Mulligan was forced to abandon attempts to reclaim £100,000 in disputed allowances paid to the force’s chief constable Grahame Maxwell and his deputy Adam Briggs by the former police authority.

The pay of chief police officers is now being considered for the first time by the Senior Salaries Review Body, which provides independent advice to the Government.

Former North Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Roger Baker

Mr Alston said he had “continued to call for a national review of Chief Officer allowances and bonuses to guarantee consistency and accountability, and to ensure that they are properly authorised.”

In North Yorkshire, Mrs Mulligan said former chief officers and the police authority “agreed a murky deal behind closed doors” for Mr Maxwell and Mr Briggs and that “the most important thing now is to ensure this can’t happen again”.

She said: “It is vital that any ambiguities are eliminated and that there is a transparent pay and allowances structure which all concerned abide by.

“This includes setting clear parameters around any local flexibility to avoid additional allowances that have no basis in law, as happened here under the former Police Authority regime.”

Mr Baker was unavailable for comment