Police Finances - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Examination of Witness (Question Numbers 1-39)

Paul McKeever

11 January 2011

Q1   Chair: This is the first session in the Committee's inquiry into police finances. Our first witness is Paul McKeever, the Chairman of the Police Federation. Welcome, Mr McKeever.

Paul McKeever: Good morning, Mr Vaz.

Q2   Chair: Could I refer everyone present to the Register of Members' Interests, where the interests of the members of this Committee are noted. Are there any interests other than those that are needed to be declared today?

  Mark Reckless: I would like to specifically declare my membership of the Kent Police Authority.

Q3   Chair: Thank you. The Police Federation, Mr McKeever, published a statement at the end of last year in which it said that you all expected that 20,000 police officers would lose their jobs as a result of the new spending cuts. Is that still the case? Is that still your expectation?

Paul McKeever: Yes, it is. We're expecting to lose at least 20,000 officers over the next three to four years due to the financial situation that the Government finds itself in, and police forces find themselves in, as a result of the budget that we've been given. It's based on what's being said within forces, on what's being reported to us by our 43 branch boards around the country, so it's pretty sound as far as we're concerned.

Q4   Chair: How many of those would be frontline officers as opposed to those doing other tasks? We will of course explore back office functions a little later on in this evidence session, but are these bobbies on the beat or are they just generally to go by natural wastage?

Paul McKeever: It's right across the whole piece. There's no particular area that's been targeted. What seems to be the general trend at the moment is that forces are looking to lose as many officers as they can through natural wastage and where they can't the first port of call they're going to is regulation A19—a provision whereby if the force feels it is necessary to lose members of the force it can do so once an officer has reached 30 years' service. Clearly, officers who reach 30 years' service will be performing a whole range of different functions. They tend to be the officers who have the very high skill sets that are required in a modern police service. They tend to be the officers who have the experience that you rely on when you're going through difficult times and yet they are the ones, I think, who are going to be lost first. That's unfortunate.

Q5   Chair: We'll come to that regulation in a moment. You mentioned 20,000 police officers. Do you have any estimates as to the number of PCSOs or support staff that will also be lost as a result of these proposals?

Paul McKeever: Yes. When most forces talk about losing police officers they then also talk about losing police staff numbers, and most forces give a higher figure for police staff than for police officers. There will be more police staff going than police officers. Clearly what that will mean is that those jobs and those functions performed by police staff will have to be performed by somebody or stop being done. Clearly those functions will be performed in part at least by officers who are performing other functions at this moment in time.

Q6   Chair: What kind of functions? What functions do you think a serving officer would not do at the moment that as a result of the cuts they may have to do in the future?

Paul McKeever: It would be some of the back-room analytical functions, it might be front office staff in stations. I know some forces are looking to lose staff there. It's the sort of role that perhaps you would expect a police officer to perform in years gone by that's become civilianised over the years. It might have to revert back to a police officer, or we might have to change the way we do business in terms of keeping police stations open.

Q7   Chair: There was a report—I think at the end of last year—that suggested that at least half of the police stations in the country might close. Do you know of this report and do you think it is an accurate report?

Paul McKeever: I don't know, but all bets are off at the moment and chiefs have a very difficult position to deal with, a very difficult budget to deal with. Clearly, selling parts of the capital estate, losing police stations, is one avenue that they might go down. I don't know what the exact figures would be, but certainly I'm sure it's something that the police chiefs will be considering.

Q8   Mark Reckless: I understand that the Police Federation is not a supporter of my Bill to allow police officers to be made redundant, but you've just said the likely effect of making half or more of the redundancies, of the loss of people through civilians, will be that highly skilled police officers are moved into roles that are currently being done more cheaply by civilians. Does that make any sense?

Paul McKeever: It doesn't if you think that the cuts should be made primarily, or first and foremost, among police officer numbers. We don't. We look at other areas of the police service where you have civil staff and say that the cuts should be made there first—PCSOs for example, who aren't as flexible as police officers. We also think that there's still a case to be made for perhaps revisiting the overall budget cut and perhaps deciding it wasn't what it should have been.

Q9   Mark Reckless: But surely the cuts for any given reduction that's needed should be made in a way that is most productive and efficient for policing rather than in a way that protects people who happen to be your members?

Paul McKeever: I agree. One of the frustrations that I think we have throughout the police service—it's not just us in the federation; people talk about it privately—is that we seem to be doing it the wrong way around. We are making the cuts and then looking to create a model, rather than actually deciding what the model is and then making the cuts afterwards. It seems that the model is going to be formed by the cuts and that can't be the best way forward, because when I listened to Bill Bratton, who came over recently and was a guest at Policy Exchange, he was saying that there are going to be some real unintended consequences to what is happening in this revolution in policing. Those are his words, not mine. It's a very high risk strategy that's being undertaken. We wish the Government well, we hope that whatever policies followed by any Government are successful, but it's our position to point out the risks as we see them.

Q10   Mr Burley: I just want to pursue the point about the mixed work force a little more, because the Minister for police is on record saying that he thinks a mixed work force is the way forward for the police, but certainly speaking to my constituents over Christmas most of them are very surprised when you tell them that a PCSO can be made redundant, a police staff member can be made redundant, but on joining the force a police officer has a job for 30 years and cannot be made redundant. It's about the only example I can think of in the public sector of a job for life; you cannot make a police officer redundant. Hence you come into the issues of A19 and disproportionate cuts falling on staff and PCSOs because you cannot make a police officer redundant. Don't you think that it is time we reformed the office of constable so that that anomaly no longer stands in the 21st century?

Paul McKeever: I will deal first of all with the status of the police officer and how you can get rid of them, if you like, if they're not performing. There are clearly written provisions in place, which allow you to go through unsatisfactory performance if an individual officer isn't performing to the standard that is required of the service. I think you'll hear more from Peter Fahy and Chris Sims after me when they give evidence to you in relation to that. There are provisions where you can get rid of unsatisfactory or underperforming officers.

  In terms of the status we have to be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water, by changing the status of a police officer. It's for a very good reason that you have the independent office of constable where we can't be influenced or pressurised to act in a way that we shouldn't be acting, and we are there for the best reasons, for the citizens and the communities that we serve. I think you start to get into the politicisation of the role of the office of constable, and I think it is very dangerous once that starts happening.

Q11   Mr Burley: I don't see the logic in that, because the extension of that argument is therefore that police staff and PCSOs are able to be politicised, but police officers aren't. I think most people would find the idea that PCSOs are in some way politicised a bit strange. Surely you could maintain the office of constable and all the protections that you have talked about but just say that in a mixed work force it is only fair and equitable that everybody has the same terms and conditions. Therefore the one thing that we would take out of the office of constable is this job for life—that you cannot be made redundant, as I understand it, other than for gross misconduct. Those are not the same terms and conditions as everybody else.

  Chair: We will explore some of these a little later, so brief answer.

Paul McKeever: I understand exactly what you're saying and I can understand the logic in it as well. You talk about the non-politicisation of the civil staff and the PCSOs. We'll have to wait and see what the outcome is of some of the union action that's going to be taken later in the year in terms of strikes and political action, with a small "p", that will be taken by those unions and members of police staff. I think that might illustrate the very reasons why we need to preserve the office of constable. We don't want to take that sort of action.

Q12   Chair: Do you anticipate that there will be? I remember marching with you against the last Government over their pay increase, and it was a very large demonstration. Do you think that the police officers themselves, because of these cuts or these proposals will be taking to the streets?

Paul McKeever: I don't know. Certainly there are no plans in the short term. There are a number of reviews going on. We're taking an active part in those, we want to work through those before we decide where else we go. We're very grateful for your support in our march last year—

Chair: I'm not sure the last Government was.

Paul McKeever: But no, we don't have any plans at this moment in time, but don't rule anything out at all.

Q13   Chair: So it's possible it might happen?

Paul McKeever: It might happen again.

Q14   Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you, Chairman. Mr McKeever, Lancashire Constabulary's headquarters are in my constituency of South Ribble and the Lancashire Constabulary recognise that they have to change the mindset and culture to pay and conditions, which they believe need to be updated, particularly with regard to overtime. What would your comments be on that?

Paul McKeever: Interestingly, we always come back to overtime. We are an emergency service and the clue is in the name—we deal with emergencies. By the very nature of the work that we deal with there are going to be peaks and troughs in what we do. Surely the best way to reward somebody if they're performing additional duty is to pay them for the duty that they perform.

The size of the overtime budget has come down quite dramatically over the last two or three years. I think it's come down to just over £300 million a year. You also have to go back to when I joined the service in 1977 and look what happens when you do reduce police numbers considerably. When forces are stretched, it becomes more important that you have the flexibility to put officers where they're needed, at the times they're needed as well, over and above their normal tours of duty. It's a cheaper form of paying them than if you have to employ other people to do that job, because you haven't got all the additional expenses that go with employing somebody, the training, the recruitment and everything else that goes with it.

Q15   Lorraine Fullbrook: So you would not agree with Lancashire Constabulary that they need to change the mindset and culture for pay and conditions?

Paul McKeever: I think that it's worked very well for the last 30 years. We've had a very stable situation for the last 30 years and the question I would pose is: why change something that has worked well over the last 30 years? We've asked chief officers what is the problem with the regulations and they can't come up with any specific examples. Those that they do come up with tend to be very weak.

Q16   Chair: Do you anticipate crime will rise as a result of this?

Paul McKeever: You can't say definitively that crime will rise. You can't say that. But there seems to be a correlation. I draw your attention to the Civitas report from last week, which draws a correlation. It is not an exact correlation, but there is a clear trend in the relationship between police officer numbers and crime. I know there was a spat—if I'm allowed to use that term; perhaps a discussion—before Christmas between Ed Balls and Nick Herbert, the police Minister, over whether there is a direct correlation between police officer numbers and crime going up or crime going down. I think one said that there is a correlation and the other said it is not a simple correlation, or there isn't a simple answer to it. They are both right. There are a number of factors involved in crime going up and crime going down. However, I think anybody would say that police officer numbers have to have some sort of effect. You only have to look at New York, which is a comparator that is often used by Government at the moment, to see that where police officer numbers have started to fall over the last year or two, violent crime is going up in New York. Rape, murder and robberies are up over the last year or so. It is something we have to take cognisance of.

Q17   Dr Huppert: Can I move back to issues about regulation A19? It seems there is a position, which I suspect the Federation takes, that no police officer should ever be removed from post ever. But if we were to assume for a moment that there was some reason why there might be a need to reduce the head count in a particular force of police officers, if we take that as a premise, it seems to me that you can either make redundant people who have done 30 years' service or people who have done less than 30 years' service. Early on, you were making a strong argument, I think, against regulation A19, saying that people who have done 30 years' service have some of the most experience and the most involvement. Isn't the logic of your position that you ought to be keen on Mr Reckless's Bill as a way of providing an alternative to getting rid of very experienced officers? Ultimately, surely the question is which officers would one have to reduce the number of?

Paul McKeever: If the police service was staffed wholly by police officers I would probably be following your argument wholly, but the police service is not staffed wholly by police officers. We are a percentage of the work force, and in some forces, in excess of 50% of the work force are police staff members. They do not give you the resilience that you get from a warranted police officer. A warranted police officer can work in a whole range of different areas. If you employ a police staff member they are much more limited in what they can do. When we go into more volatile times, and I think we are, you need that flexibility within the structure to be able to deal with those emergencies and situations that arise that we have a responsibility to deal with.

Q18   Dr Huppert: I realise you speak for warranted police officers, so you are coming from particularly that direction. My constabulary in Cambridgeshire has some extremely experienced civilian staff who they are very concerned about having to lose precisely because there is no way of adjusting the number of police officers. Do you accept at least that PCSOs and civilian staff can have a very important role and build up a huge amount of experience, and are often a lot cheaper than having warranted officers doing the same job?

Paul McKeever: Yes, I think there has perhaps been a misrepresentation of our position in relation to PCSOs. We have nothing against PCSOs individually; they do a good job, they joined the job and the service for absolutely the right reasons. They are public spirited and public hearted and a lot of them—in some forces up to 60%—become fully warranted officers anyway. So we never, ever look to denigrate PCSOs. But the actual functions they perform could be performed better by a warranted officer.

Q19   Dr Huppert: Have you done any proper studies on how effective PCSOs are compared with police officers, given their different costs?

Paul McKeever: No, we haven't, not within the Police Federation.

Q20   Mark Reckless: Mr McKeever, you rightly identify the historical route of the anomaly whereby a police officer can't be made redundant. It was held that there wasn't a sufficient degree of command and control because you have some independence of arrest, and perhaps search and some discretion. But the law develops. Are you not aware that MPs used to also be in the situation of not being considered to be employees, but following litigation in the 1990s from a Mr Gibson in Norwich, that is no longer the case? Are you seriously saying that, for instance, the Conservative Whips have a greater degree of command and control over how I vote and what I do than your Chief Constable does over what you might do?

Paul McKeever: I don't know how the Conservative Whips whip you, so it would perhaps be wrong of me to make comment on that. But chief officers have a great deal of control and authority over their forces and perhaps they should exercise it more than has been seen in the past. The controls are there, they are there already and the levers are there if they want to use them. I think perhaps because they are so consumed with so much else—it is an extraordinarily complex and difficult role that they are performing, we must never forget that, and we are focusing on one area of it at the moment—it is a difficult role for them to perform, but they do have the levers there. I think the problems come further down the command system. It is recognised, I think in most organisations, that the problem comes around about the middle management level within any organisation—getting them to understand and accept the ethos that you're trying to get out there.

Q21   Mark Reckless: You appear to be an employee, you can be told what to do in most areas by your senior people, surely you are an employee in the same way MPs were judged to be so.

Paul McKeever: But in the most crucial areas where we're dealing with people's liberty and independence when going about their lawful business we cannot be told what to do. We cannot be directed. We are not militaristic. If you look at the way police services have formed over the years in Europe, there are a couple of very good comparators. If you go to the south of Europe it tends to be the Napoleonic system where police services are bolted on to the military side of Government. They are directed; it is a very different style of policing. Certainly in north-western Europe it is a very different style of policing. We are attached to the Home Departments of Government and we are, in this country, based on discretion. A lot of the problems that have emanated in the perception of policing over the last few years have come out of the fact that officers have been restricted in using that discretion to a degree. If you allow officers to use discretion and common sense in the office of constable—allow them that independence of thought through the office of constable—you gain so much more.

Q22   Steve McCabe: Mr McKeever, we touched earlier on the question of pay and conditions, and you mentioned your views on the overtime case. The CSR says that there will have to be changes in pay and conditions, and that's one of the savings that the CSR is premised on as far as the police are concerned. What changes to pay and conditions have been planned as far as you and your members are aware? What benefits do you see accruing from that and what concerns do you have?

Paul McKeever: There's an awful lot in the question. We've given a very full response to Tom Winsor who is carrying out the report into the pay and conditions of police officers and police staff across the country. It's a very detailed and substantial report that I can make available to the Committee, if you'd like to have it.

  Steve McCabe: Please.

Paul McKeever: I don't think I can go through all of the 50 or 60 pages here.

Q23   Steve McCabe: Sure, but on the key points, what changes have been flagged up to you? What major concerns do you have and are there any obvious benefits? That's what I want to know.

Paul McKeever: The areas where there is talk of change—at the moment it is talk of change only at the moment because we have to wait on the outcome of the report—are in relation to that 2% of the police budget that was taken from the police budget and where we created, or where the PMB created, special priority payments, competence-related threshold pay and bonuses—small bonuses for officers if they perform some particularly high standard of duty. It must also be remembered this isn't money that was given to us additionally, this was money taken away from the main pay pot, and it is in those three areas that we're talking about, or where discussions have taken place, in relation to diminishing police pay.

  We've always been against bonuses from the start. We have said it should be part of the police pot. You shouldn't be joining the police service with the expectation of getting a bonus. Nobody who gets a bonus as a federated member goes to work thinking, "How can I get a bonus today?" The sort of bonuses we're talking about are not the sort that you get in the City of London or elsewhere. You get perhaps £100 here or £200 there for some extraordinary act of bravery—disarming a man with a knife, perhaps. When you look at the type of bonuses that are given, and the number of bonuses that are given across the country in a typical station—say London with 700 officers—perhaps 20 or 30 might get a bonus in a year, so quite a tiny fraction of officers ever got those little bonuses. We don't think they're appropriate, we don't think they're right and it doesn't motivate officers at all. It should go back into the main pay pot.

  The sort of effect it is going to have on police performance will be limited. I think it's part of a much wider picture where there is demoralisation—I use the word very specifically—in the police service, where there has been a denigration I think of the police over a number of years and it is culminating in some of the reports that are being undertaken at the moment. There's a real nervousness.

Q24   Chair: Denigration by whom, Mr McKeever?

Paul McKeever: I think in the press, mainly. If you look at the press about some of the things I touched on earlier about use of discretion and the authorities.

Q25   Chair: Not by politicians or Ministers?

Paul McKeever: I can't think of specific examples of politicians or Ministers, no. It is mainly through the press.

Q26   Steve McCabe: I just wanted to clarify this. When the CSR talks about the need to modernise pay and conditions, I understood that to mean that they wanted to have some fairly major change—there is an expectation that somehow money has not been used appropriately or could be used better. Has anything been flagged up to you yet suggesting a fairly major change in the pay and conditions that you and other police officers can expect?

Paul McKeever: Apart from the ones that are going to take place anyway, such as the suppressing of wages through the two-year pay freeze, and perhaps paying additional moneys toward our pensions, everything is still being talked about at the moment. That's why we had the review of pay and conditions that Tom Winsor is undertaking. It was a very short time scale—we had four weeks to respond—but that is all contained within his report. As he says, everything is being looked at—absolutely everything.

  Steve McCabe: Thank you very much.

Q27   Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr McKeever, Lancashire Constabulary are asking themselves, "What can we do to change?" By removing the bureaucratic top-down controls from Whitehall, the Government is giving chief constables the flexibility to best decide how to police; for example in my constituency and other constituencies. Can you give specific examples of savings you can see in bureaucracy?

Paul McKeever: Can I say first that we welcome very much what the Government is doing in terms of getting rid of some of the unnecessary bureaucracy from top down? It's something that we've called for ourselves for a number of years. In terms of specifics, I think we have concentrated too much on specifics in the past. Most of those have already been identified through the report carried out by my predecessor, Jan Berry, when she looked at bureaucracy in the police service. I'm not going to revisit those.

  What I will say is that there are three main areas you have to look at when you look at bureaucracy. The first is that we have to have some sort of bureaucracy, because we are accountable. We are in a democracy and in any proper democracy the police have to be accountable. Any police officer who thinks otherwise is probably in the wrong job. So there's going to be some recording and accountability.

  The second is changing the culture that we don't say no to other organisations—partnership organisations—who impose bureaucracy on us: "Here's a four-page report we want you to fill in before somebody is transferred as a prisoner", that sort of thing. We don't take an active part and say, "No, we're not going to do that". There has to be much more of a change in that sort of culture. We have to recognise that we are there and that what concerns the public is the quality of the work we do, not just the quantitative aspects of it. We don't get letters written to us saying, "Thank you very much for the way that you recorded my crime within your statistics, it was fantastically well done," but we do get letters saying, "Thank you for the way you dealt with me," and we have to remember that. It is not by chance that we have inspectors and superintendents to inspect and superintend. We have to get back to that. That sort of supervision is better than a bureaucratic form of supervision catching you out post-event.

Q28   Lorraine Fullbrook: In terms of the quality of policing that is delivered, do you think that will still be able to be done?

Paul McKeever: I think with the sort of freedom—more freedom—that officers are getting, in terms of discretion from this Government, yes, those sorts of standards can be raised. I do. Because people will then realise they're being dealt with for who they are and not to tick a box in a form somewhere else.

Q29   Chair: Have you heard of those reports where a local John Lewis store is assisting police officers in how they should deal with customers?

Paul McKeever: I have.

Q30   Chair: Do you welcome this approach?

Paul McKeever: I think you can learn from anywhere and it would be arrogant to say that we can't, in the police service, learn from other organisations. It's important to understand how organisations work and John Lewis are an excellent example to look at; they are recognised as being first rate in the way they deal with the people they come in contact with. We don't do badly either, I have to say. We get a lot of criticism about the number of complaints we get, but—

Q31   Chair: It is certainly suggested that the more you have to deal with the police the lower they are in the estimation of the public. Is that not right?

Paul McKeever: I think that's probably because the sort of situations we're dealing with people is when they are in extremis; they are in a very difficult situation themselves. Perhaps they expect more of us than we can sometimes deliver. They're going to have to get used to that a little bit, I think.

Q32   Mr Burley: There is considerable scope in terms of savings on procurement. The historic 43-force model has led to little fiefdoms to try and get the best deal on cars or uniforms or Blackberries, or whatever it might be, for their force. In the best examples, they may do some procurement with some forces around them—one or two—to share buying motor vehicles. But I'll just run an idea past you: were all procurement for the main goods and services for the police—uniforms, cars, IT and so on—done centrally through the Home Office, on an approved catalogue that police forces could choose from, and the Home Office had a responsibility to get the very best deal from national suppliers, who would then get to supply all 43 forces so the economies of scale would be greatest, do you think that would lead to some significant savings in terms of what the police have to pay companies for those goods and services, which is often hugely different throughout the country, and clearly some forces are not getting a very good deal?

Paul McKeever: I agree with that wholeheartedly. I wouldn't want to follow the exact model perhaps. I look at procurement within the Ministry of Defence, which is centralised, and there are problems there, so it's not an exact model we would want to follow. But certainly, yes, you can. We are not businessmen, we are police officers first and foremost, and if you look at some of the procurement that we've undertaken in the past in a piecemeal way across forces we have been rolled over on occasions. So yes, it could be done better.

Q33   Chair: Do you find that your members, if they make suggestions as to how to save money, are listened to as far as those suggestions are concerned?

Paul McKeever: I think it's still too much centralised. We are an organisation that has a command structure and I think there is a change of culture needed where you listen more to the people who have the answers on the ground floor. There have been some very good examples in the NHS that I've seen and I think we could use those examples in the police as well. Listen to the people who are doing the job; we are the practitioners, we are the ones who understand what the wrinkles are and the problems out there and we often have solutions. That's what my members do.

Q34   Mr Winnick: The report which you probably know about—the Inspectorate of Constabulary, Valuing the Police—made the point that a lot of funding is diverting from essential police work to inspection and I'm just wondering whether in your view there is any change in the inspection regime that could save money.

Paul McKeever: Yes. We hold Sir Denis O'Connor in very high regard indeed. He is a man who has a real understanding of the police service and he has come out with some excellent reports over the last year or two. When he speaks we do listen. We think that perhaps the HMI could be more intrusive in their role. There is perhaps a touch of the old gentleman's agreement in the way that it's performed in the past, where you get notice that HMI are going to be turning up well before they arrive and carry out an inspection. I think that sort of thing could be looked at and perhaps changed to get a truer picture of what's going on in forces.

  In terms of inspection, we shouldn't be too heavy-handed. We have to let people get on with the job they're doing. The world will go on without statisticians creating tables and graphs and goodness knows what else. We have to remain focused on what we are there to do, and that is to deal with individuals.

Q35   Mr Winnick: The drawback I suppose is that since there were very adverse reports about the police, such as the Birmingham Six case, Guildford—something that has very much emerged in the last day or so and I hope to ask the chief constables about it shortly—there is a feeling that oversight and inspection has not been carried out to the extent that it is at the moment and there may well be a feeling that that is not serving the public either.

Paul McKeever: First of all, I don't think oversight and inspection would have changed what happened before I joined the service, in the cases you referred to, and I am one of the oldest serving officers in the country. So it's historical from my policing perspective. That has to be remembered too; we shouldn't be blamed for perhaps what happened under our predecessors' care and control.

  In terms of how you could change that, I think it has changed an awful lot over the last years, but it's having that intrusive supervision—having real frontline intrusive supervision at sergeant level, ensuring inspectors are there to inspect and superintendents are there to superintend. That will get rid of the sort of problems that have perhaps been there in the past. We should also be ensuring that we are completely open in what we do. If you go back to the '70s—the cases you referred to—it was a very different police service. I joined in 1977. It is very different today in terms of the openness and the way we deal with the press and public and everybody else than it was in those days. I'm not saying it couldn't happen again, but I think it's less likely to. We have to maintain that supervision there. It's not the higher level inspection of strategic processes that changed that.

Q36   Chair: Your membership is what, at the moment, Mr McKeever?

Paul McKeever: It's around 140,000.

Q37   Chair: You say the proposals will mean a cut of 20,000 police officers. This presumably will have quite a big effect on your membership.

Paul McKeever: It will, and you have to take into the equation the factor that the population has risen quite considerably over the last few years and the per 100,000 number of police officers will fall, if we lose 20,000 today, to a level per 100,000 below what it was in the very bad days of the 1970s when the police forces were stretched greatly. We have to bear that in mind.

Q38   Nicola Blackwood: Could I just ask quickly, Mr McKeever, if you've been consulted by the Home Office about the savings which will be required and how best they can be made?

Paul McKeever: In terms of bureaucracy?

Nicola Blackwood: In terms of bureaucracy, but in wider terms as well.

Paul McKeever: In terms of pay and conditions we had a four-week consultative process that took place prior to Christmas. That is being published shortly; we are expecting it to be published shortly. There's also a review by Peter Neyroud that we weren't consulted on greatly to do with training and leadership, which we're disappointed with. The review into pensions, yes, we are actively being consulted in relation to that.

  In terms of bureaucracy per se, I think that we have the opportunity to speak to the police Minister on a fairly regular basis and occasionally to the Home Secretary as well. So the door is open. Is it open as much as we would like? We're going to say no. We would like it to be open more, but I guess you hear that quite often around this table anyway.

Q39   Chair: Mr McKeever, thank you very much. Can I thank you on behalf of the Committee for all the help that the Federation has given in the past as far as our inquiries are concerned, and we look forward to visiting the Federation in a fortnight's time. Thank you very much.

  Paul McKeever: I very much look forward to it, Mr Vaz.

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