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Norfolk police payments to lure top officers

PUBLISHED: 07:17 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 06 July 2010

Norfolk police spent a total of almost £100,000 to lure its two top officers to the county, it was confirmed yesterday as bosses insisted the force should not merely be a "training ground" for top talent.

Norfolk police spent a total of almost £100,000 to lure its two top officers to the county, it was confirmed yesterday as bosses insisted the force should not merely be a “training ground” for top talent.

The force had already released details of a £70,000 package handed to chief constable Ian McPherson following his appointment in 2007. Now the police authority has said it paid deputy chief constable Ian Learmonth between £19,000 and £28,999 in a similar deal. This figure could rise further once the latest accounts are released.

The relocation payments are in addition to the officers' salaries and include reimbursement of removal costs, legal and estate agent fees and stamp duty. Mr Learmonth earns a salary £101,000 while the chief constable earns £129,000.

No other similar payments have been made to top officers since 1993 when Ken Williams was appointed chief constable. All other recent senior vacancies were filled internally.

The payments have come under scrutiny but Norfolk Police Authority insisted they were necessary to attract the best officers to a county often regarded as a “backwater”.

Chairman Stephen Bett said: “In a bid to attract and retain officers of high calibre, to an area of the country that many ill-informed people think of as a 'flat backwater', we need to put together a package of pensionable pay, market supplements, and ancillary benefits that attracts high calibre officers.

“Then, having got them here and they having proved their credentials, we do not want them being poached, often very quickly, by other larger forces.

“It is our contention, that being chief constable of Norfolk is not to be seen as the training ground for progressing up the greasy pole.”

However, David Benfield, general secretary of Norfolk Police Federation, said the payments might be “difficult to comprehend”.

He added: “We live in frugal times in an economic credit crunch when there is a real clampdown on expenses and overtime in relation to rank and file officers on the street.

“It sometimes may be difficult to comprehend there is no overtime for officers to carry out day-to-day duties around the county and yet there's an amount like that to be available as part of a relocation package.

“Whether that's justified is a matter for the police authority and the accountability factor will be decided by the public.”

In addition to his salary, the authority said it has the option of awarding Mr McPherson an annual performance-related bonus of up 15pc, or more than £20,000.

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