Police chiefs took £120,000 bonuses while Rotherham grooming scandal unfolded

AT LEAST £120,000 in bonuses were paid to senior South Yorkshire Police officers while the child grooming scandal was unfolding, it was revealed today.

South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield

More than £50,000 was paid in just two years to former chief constable Med Hughes, who ran the force between 2004 and 2011.

But South Yorkshire Police have refused to reveal what bonuses were paid between 2002 and 2008 on the grounds it would be too ‘time-consuming’ to retrieve the information.

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A response to a Freedom of Information request by the Sheffield Star newspaper said prior to 2009/10 there was no obligation to provide information on senior officers’ bonus payments, making it difficult to ‘locate, retrieve and extract’ details of the payments.

Med Hughes in 2006

The force said today their policies have changed under current chief constable David Crompton, with accounts showing no bonus payments to senior officers during his time in charge.

South Yorkshire Police were criticised earlier this year by Home Secretary Theresa May, who said in the early 2000s the force was ‘allegedly so intent on meeting Home Office targets about car theft and burglary that it ignored hundreds of young girls being abused in Rotherham and Sheffield’.

She added it has been alleged the force had a ‘management culture, according to some whistleblowers, in which senior officers’ pay was linked to the targets, meaning it was possible to indirectly reward officers for neglecting the victims of sexual abuse’.

A Freedom of Information response by the force originally refused to provide a full answer to how many senior command team officers were paid bonuses or given performance-related pay for meeting Home Office of internally-set crime targets between 2002 and 2015, as well as how much they were paid.

Med Hughes facing the Home Affairs Committee in September

But the response did clarify the now-defunct South Yorkshire Police Authority would have authorised bonus payments and ‘it is understood that bonuses would not have been awarded purely on achieving a particular crime target’.

The force also said it does not currently have any policy which allows for the payment of bonuses or performance-related pay for meeting crime targets.

But publicly-available accounts provided by the force show Mr Hughes received a £9,605 bonus in 2008/09.

It was followed by a bonus of £45,174 in 2009/10 – £15,000 of which was a delayed payment related to the previous year’s work.

Two other senior officers, the deputy chief constable and director of finance, shared bonuses of more than £13,000 in 2008/09.

The following year, three officers – the deputy chief constable, the assistant chief constable for territorial operations and the director of finance – were paid bonuses of £23,740.

In 2010/11, more than £15,000 was paid out to the deputy chief constable, the assistant chief constable for territorial operations and the director of finance in bonuses – but no bonus went to Mr Hughes.

The same level of bonus was paid out again in 2011/12 to the same three staff members, with again nothing going to Mr Hughes or his temporary replacement Robert Dyson.

In 2012/13, no bonuses were paid to any senior officers, with the same situation in 2013/14.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Performance-related payments to senior officers was implemented under the former South Yorkshire Police Authority which no longer exists.

“The current senior command team does not believe that senior officers need to be additionally rewarded for carrying out their duties to the best of their ability.”

A Home Office spokesperson said today: “This Government has been clear that policing must have a modern pay structure that recognises the hard work of officers but rewards skills, rather than time served.

“That is why we abolished the chief officer bonus scheme, following the Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration, led by Sir Tom Winsor. We have also introduced greater transparency around chief officer remuneration, including the publication of chief officers’ full pay and rewards packages on the College of Policing website.

“Chief officers’ pay and allowances are set nationally and are considered annually by the Senior Salaries Review Body.”