Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
TUESDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2002
STEVENS QPM, MR
100. So have you made representations to the
(Mr Blair) We have, indeed.
101. And what response have you had?
(Mr Blair) We await a response.
102. When did you make your representations?
(Mr Blair) As part of the reform process.
103. Is there any sign of movement?
(Mr Blair) It is in the White Paper;
there is a clear indication that that voice has been heard.
Chairman: Good; well we shall look forward to
seeing the outcome.
104. Moving on to retirement matters, and you
responded briefly to that earlier on in the proceedings, very
briefly, are you satisfied with the new proposals to continue
for four years, although it is after 30 years?
(Sir John Stevens) Yes; but we must make
sure that that is backed up by proper financial rewards.
105. And how many officers do you feel, out of
those after 30 years, you would wish to retain as a percentage,
and who will make the decision, will it be a Police Service wish
that "We would like you to stay," or would the officer
seek to stay?
(Sir John Stevens) It would be an amalgam
of both, really, because not all officers will want to stay, because,
as I said earlier, it is a demanding job and you can get burned
out, you might not have an appetite for it, you might not have
your health, for that matter, or you might want to do something
which is far more relaxing and take your pension money. So, first
of all, they would have to be someone who said they wanted to
stay; secondly, there has to be an assessment that that person
was going to be very valuable to the organisation; and then, thirdly,
it would be a matter for us to say that that person was going
to add value in terms of what they are doing.
106. But on the experience you have at the moment,
do you have any rough idea as to how many officers we are talking
about, a year, would wish to stay on for another four years?
(Sir John Stevens) No, it is difficult
to say, but, going round, talking to focus groups and talking
to officers, there is quite a big appetite for it, and you would
have to work it out in terms of where you put those officers and
what benefit they give to the organisation. But the bottom line
is, we would want to keep as many as possible; if they were good
working officers, we would want all of them to stay, quite frankly.
107. Finally, Chair, if I just move on to sickness.
What change would you like to see in the arrangements for allowing
officers to retire on sickness pensions?
(Sir John Stevens) The sickness pensions,
we are now down to below 33 per cent of what the pensions are.
My own view is that the job is demanding, people have to have
the right to leave on a sickness pension. But we all know that,
in the past, over a lot of years in the past, that has been abused,
and at one stage, I think, in certain forces it was up to 75 per
cent; well, that is just not on. So I think the rules and regulations
and the targets that were set by the Home Office of 33 per cent
of pensions being for medical reasons is about right; we would
like to bring it lower than that. But there still has to be something
within the regulations that allows a police officer who is injured
on duty, and I am commending people every week for outstanding
bravery, sometimes one gets very frustrated by the amount of publicity
that gets, I am talking about people who are unarmed, taking on
people with guns, who are getting injured, and so on and so forth,
so for that type of person, injured on duty, there must be a system
that allows them to leave on a medical pension; but the system
must not allow abuse.
108. I do not think anybody would have any problem
with the scenario you have just stated, but is it still being
used as a get-out clause by both an individual officer and the
Metropolitan Police to get rid of somebody who may be an embarrassment
if they stay?
(Sir John Stevens) No. We would certainly
not like that to happen, because it costs us money; and the bottom
line is that that was used in the past, as you know. But, again,
I am afraid, it is a matter of medical opinion. No-one can actually
leave the Police Service without a medical pension unless the
doctor gives the medical opinion that that is the right course
of action; it is not a decision that is made by myself, as the
Commissioner, it is a medical decision that is made.
(Mr Blair) And if I might just add, on that, that
may be part of the issue, that the management control is actually
not there, because the medical decision is the one that counts.
And on a number of occasions across the country Chief Constables
have been taken to judicial review by the Federation for refusing
a medical pension, and every time the Chief Constables have lost,
because the actual piece is, the Regulations state, in extraordinary
language, that if a member of the force cannot carry out the ordinary
duties of a policeman, it does not actually mention that there
might be actually somebody else there, then he is entitled to
a medical pension. And if you build a system that has got that
level of incentive in it, do not be surprised when somebody uses
109. Are there any plans to reduce the level
of incentive in it?
(Mr Blair) It is not so much the incentive,
I do not think there is much chance of that, because it is actually
parallel to many other occupations; the key issue, which I know
the Home Office is seized of, is whether managers, and, in particular,
say, the Authority and the Chief Officer, have got the final say,
or whether, as soon as that certificate hits the desk, there is
nothing you can do about the fact that, because he, or she, cannot
do the whole duties of a police officer, well, very few people
can do the whole duties of a police officer, in their late forties,
we are not built necessarily to be able to do riot training, and
riot training is being held to be part of the duty.
110. Besides which, you will have noticed, as
I have, and the public certainly have, that people tend to make
a remarkable recovery once the money is flowing, and are able
to do things they were previously not capable of?
(Sir John Stevens) Although we have prosecuted,
that has to be accepted as being abuse of process, and something
needs to be done about it. The general feeling, certainly within
the Met and other forces, is that this should not be allowed,
by police officers.
111. And the solution is to give the Chief Officer
the final say, rather than the medical?
(Sir John Stevens) Indeed; absolutely.
(Mr Blair) And also to change the definition of what
the ordinary duties of a policeman are.
112. Thank you, that is very helpful. Can you
just remind me, you may have mentioned but I missed it, what percentage
of officers in the Met retire on sickness grounds?
(Sir John Stevens) It is now down to
below 33 per cent, it is 32 per cent, I think, exactly, which
has come down considerably from what it was. The level of sickness
in the Metropolitan Police is also a success story, it was 14
days a year, it is down now to 10.5, coming up to 11, I think.
113. A lot of it is to do with management, is
it not, sickness?
(Sir John Stevens) I think it is. It
is very interesting to see why people leave the Service, and normally
they will leave the Service because they feel they have not been
treated in the right way, and some of the reasons they have not
been treated in the right way are exactly that, management and
leadership. It is like we are talking about, you know, a Chief
Inspector saying someone is leaving too early; well, that Chief
Inspector is paid to lead that officer, encourage him, whatever,
to stay and do the job, that is what he is paid for, as a supervisor.
114. I did hear, in the Transport Police, I do
not know whether it applies to the Met, that the level of sickness
was highest amongst Inspectors; well that would explain a thing
or two, would it not?
(Sir John Stevens) It would, yes; it
is not the same in the Met, no.
Chairman: I am glad to hear that. Equality and
diversity; Janet Dean.
115. Sir John, you mentioned before the welcome
news that 40 per cent of specials and volunteer cadets are from
the ethnic minority communities. Could you tell us how you have
managed to achieve that?
(Sir John Stevens) It is a question we
have asked ourselves time and time again, the Commandant of the
specials, and we said how come that we are actually getting 30,
40 per cent, if you take volunteers and specials joining, as distinct
from 11.5 per cent to 12 per cent which are now joining the training
school. And we have come to the conclusion it may well be that
people are putting their toe in the water, seeing what the organisation
is like, will they have confidence to join the Metropolitan Police
as an ethnic minority officer, and the evidence is showing that
we are getting more people joining now; we need a lot more. If
actually we can keep it up between 12 and 15 per cent, I think
we will double the number of ethnic minority officers in this
force over five years, and that will be a considerable success
story. But, being specific about why they are joining, we do not
know, but we are having entry interviews to see why and we are
doing a lot more work on that, because if we can come up with
the reasons maybe that will have some effect on our regulars as
116. The 11-12 per cent that are going to the
training centres, how does that compare, say, with two years ago?
(Sir John Stevens) We were down something
like 5 or 6 per cent then, and it is a considerable improvement.
There is still a long way to go; if we could get it up to, say,
18 or 20, we would know we would even meet the targets set by
Jack Straw when he was Home Secretary two years ago, which were
very, very difficult targets that had been set, but we are aiming
117. What about retention and what evidence is
there that those who are going into training are actually staying
(Sir John Stevens) We are losing only
4 per cent of people from training school, which is the national
average. The other aspect, if I may mention, is the business of
women joining the Service; we have got only 16 per cent of people
who are in the Metropolitan Police Force who are women, we need
118. Yes, I was going to come on to the females.
How has that changed over the last couple of years?
(Sir John Stevens) It has gone up slightly,
but we do need more; and I think it is all about women being home-makers,
and so on and so forth, as men are, these days, of course, but
there has to be a far more flexible system to allow people to
work part-time working and how they work their shifts than we
have had in the past. I think the rigidity of what we have had
in the past has actually not encouraged people to be willing to
join, and even worse has encouraged them to leave. And a lot more
of that needs to take place in the future; there need to be role
models, as well, more role models about ethnic minority and women
officers at higher levels, still more.
119. Is that flexibility already in place now?
(Sir John Stevens) We are working on
that, and there is a lot more to be done on that; things like
nurseries, schools, and so on and so forth, and child welfare,
this needs to be looked at. And I know the Metropolitan Police
Authority, in particular, are on the case, in relation to that.