Dismay at salaries for crime tsars’ top officials

Alan Billing
Alan Billing
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BUREAUCRATS supporting Yorkshire’s new crime commissioners will earn more than their bosses, and the bill for top backroom staff could more than double in one part of the region, it has emerged.

The pay packets of some senior officials will eclipse those of their commissioner by more than £15,000, and in one area two officials stand to earn more than the person who employs them.

Commissioners will be paid up to £100,000, and staff at police authorities in West Yorkshire, Humberside and North Yorkshire will transfer to the new arrangements after elections in November.

But South Yorkshire Police Authority does not have its own back office function, as administration is shared with three other bodies, so a new chief executive and treasurer will have to be employed.

Members of the authority have plans to advertise for a £100,000 a year chief executive to support the county’s commissioner, despite the elected official’s significantly smaller £85,000 salary.

A separate treasurer or chief finance officer on similar wages will also be required under the coalition Government policy.

The move has already sparked concern from one candidate, who urged caution over spending on administration when frontline police services were under pressure from severe budget cuts.

Dr Alan Billings is the latest Labour nominee to be put forward for election as commissioner in South Yorkshire, alongside three others, including former chief constable Meredydd Hughes.

Dr Billings, a former deputy leader of Sheffield Council and retired parish priest, said: “There will be a cost in setting up commissioners, which is why Labour was opposed in the first place.

“Now we have got to get a grip on that, and I hope that the police authority hasn’t set in train something that gets overblown before the police and crime commissioner even gets in post.”

South Yorkshire’s Police Authority met on Friday to discuss the problem surrounding the new chief executive and treasurer for the commissioner’s office.

Currently the police authority shares its chief executive with South Yorkshire’s fire, transport and pensions authorities, paying 40 per cent, or around £40,000, of the job’s £100,000 a year wages.

It is understood that once the new chief executive and treasurer is appointed, the so-called joint secretariat which exists now will continue, meaning the number of top officials will double.

Bill Wilkinson, the joint authorities’ chief executive and treasurer told members a “more cost effective option” was being explored, although time was short.

Authority member Jill Bartrop also urged caution, saying: “You could go from £100,000 to £300,000 very quickly if you start to divide up your treasurer and chief executive roles. £100,000 buys a lot of resources that probably the public would prefer to have.”

Accounts of West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside Police Authorities reveal that when each commissioner is first appointed, they will earn less than their most senior civil servants.

In Humberside, the elected commissioner will be paid £75,000 a year, but authority chief executive Kevin Sharp was paid £87,000 last year, and treasurer John Bates took home a salary of £78,000.

North Yorkshire’s commissioner will earn £70,000, but chief executive Jeremy Holderness is on £80,000. In West Yorkshire the commissioner will earn £100,000 but chief executive Fraser Sampson gets £116,500.

Shadow Home Secretary and Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper slammed the plans and said the £125m costs involved could pay for 3,000 new constables. “That should be the priority.”