THE BENEVOLENCE of relocation costs payable to police chiefs is not new.
Concerns were expressed by this newspaper in 2015 when it emerged that Justine Curran received £39,000 from the public purse to cover her 330-mile move from to Tayside to Humberside when she was appointed Chief Constable. She subsequently took early retirement after a number of management failings came to light.
And, even though Dawn Copley received £19,143 in tax-free relocation expenses when she became Deputy Chief Constable of South Yorkshire in October 2015 before retiring 18 months later, taxpayers have every reason to question this payment as well – she was only moving from Greater Manchester and the 40-mile commute across the Pennines is undertaken every day, the roads and railways permitting, by public and private sector workers at their own expense.
Although it might be desirable to have chief officers living in the force area in case their presence is urgently required, three points need to be further considered.
First, these appointments were not longstanding ones – should the qualifying criteria be more strict and less generous?
Second, South Yorkshire Police’s reluctance to account for the £19,143 expenditure – details only came to light following a Freedom of Information request – does not reflect well on the transparency of a force still trying to regain public trust. Why the secrecy if it truly believes such payments are in the public interest?
Third, police can hardly plead poverty over cuts to manpower when they appear to be placing the expenses of senior officers over investment in frontline policing. As such, today’s revelations add weight to calls for a reappraisal of policing priorities – especially when the higher-ranked officers are amongst the best-paid public officials in the country.