Q and A with Chief Executive Nigel Dennis after announcement that officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary now have pay parity with their Home Office colleagues.
Q: CNC police officers now have pay parity with their Home Office colleagues. What does that actually mean?
A: It means that our salary scales will align to that of our Home Office colleagues. So whatever pay scale they're on at year one through to seven on a constable rate, they'll be exactly the same. Likewise right through the federated ranks to chief inspector level. So there is no deduction; it always used to be defined as 95%. We now get 100% - exactly the same as our Home Office colleagues.
Q: So why did your colleagues used to get 95% of what Home Office colleagues got?
A: Historically, if we go back to the Edmund-Davies report in 1979 when they did the Pay Review Body for police pay, likewise they did one for non-Home Office forces and that was called the Wright report. That determined what percentage of policing role we did within our environment, and it was determined by the Wright report that we would get 95% of a Home Office officer's salary, through to federated ranks.
Q: How have you been fighting this, or challenging this, or trying to make this right?
A: Since I came into office in 2008 it's been a clear mandate from my membership that, given the role that they've been undertaking and since 2005, our mission has completely changed from what it was when we were then the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. We've become much more firearms focused, far more an anti-terrorist and policing unit, and aligned all our policing practice and standards to Centrex and the College of Policing. So every hurdle we've come across, we've jumped across to get College of Policing approval or licensing. Firearms licensing is a good example in case. So we've met all those demands. Operation Temperer has allowed us to be more in the public eye and we've had to redeploy throughout the streets of England and Wales.
Q: What's been the inspiration behind the ongoing challenge on pay?
A: To put it in simple terms, we hold the Office of Constable. There should never be a two-tier office of constable when it comes to salary. Those two salaries should be the same. I hold a warrant card, therefore why should I be paid differently than any other police officer in the country? You hold the Office of Constable, that level should be the same.
Q: Why has this happened now?
A: Because our employer has recognised that. The Civil Nuclear Police Authority, under the chairmanship of, and I have to say previous chairs, Sir Philip Trousdell, and most recently, Vic Emery, recognise the fact that our officers do hold the Office of Constable and do a job in the policing environment that aligns itself to our colleagues in the Home Office world. When we've looked at the Treasury guidelines in relation to how we achieve our goal of getting equality of pay, we've managed, through consultation and negotiation on our current pay structure, to achieve that 100% parity. What we had was an outdated pay structure. It cost an enormous amount to pay us 95%. What they used to do was pay us 100% and knock of 5%, and it cost the employer a considerable amount just to manage that process.
Q: Where is the money coming from? Is there a risk that you might have to lose officers to fund this?
A: It's within the same cost envelope that's provided to run the Constabulary. What we needed to do was simplify our pay structure, align it with our Home Office colleagues. That's what we've achieved, within the Treasury guidelines that's been allowed. We've had to future-proof this as well, because if we want to align then part of the agreement is that we will come into the working environment of the Police Pay and Remuneration Body, PRRB.
Q: Officers can expect to see this increase in their pay packets in September 2018. Why is it going to take so long?
A: Because the whole pay structure is completely changing and we're enshrined with an organisation called Multi-Force Shared Services, which other police forces we're in the same grouping with, like Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and ourselves. Because we're changing our complete pay structure, it takes time to make sure that the structures are tested and are in place.
Q: This has been a long-term effort. How pleased are you to have achieved this?
A: Extremely, because what we've achieved is the mandate I was provided back in 2008, so it's been chipping away. If you can imagine, I've been with chairmen of Police Authority, ranging from support of Sir Chris Fox through to our current chairman, Vic Emery, pushing doors right across the whole political spectrum, them all saying, 'Yes, this is wrong'. Various ministers we've met have agreed with this, but it's taken this length of time to open that door. And also get buy-in from both the Cabinet Office and Treasury, because had we not got buy-in from the Cabinet Office and Treasury on this we wouldn't have been able to achieve it, and that was significant. To get that door opened and them to understand where we were coming from, and then for them to get buy-in on that has been the challenge. A major challenge.
Q: This obviously leads to the question, if you're going to get parity on pay with Home Office colleagues, are you hopefully going to get parity on pensions with Home Office colleagues as well? What's the latest on that?
A: The latest on that, the minister has agreed to meet with us in the New Year and he's asked us to bring forward more supportive evidence, which we will be able to provide him. We're extremely pleased about the pay award. As I say, it's a milestone achievement. A significant achievement, and it puts the final nail, for ourselves, on the Wright Report. We've put that one to bed.