Sums totalling over £120,000 were paid as bonuses to senior officers in the South Yorkshire Police Force at the same time as the child grooming scandal was unfolding. One officer alone received over £50,000 in two years as the abuse of hundreds of young girls was ignored in favour of ‘priority crimes’.
The Sheffield Star reports that a response to its Freedom of Information request about pay was initially refused. The newspaper had asked South Yorkshire police how many senior command team officers were awarded either bonuses or performance-related pay for meeting crime targets set by themselves or the Home Office between 2002 and 2015.
At first declining to say how much senior officers were paid, in terms of basic salary or bonus, the response did say that the now-defunct South Yorkshire Police Authority would have authorised bonus payments and “it is understood that bonuses would not have been awarded purely on achieving a particular crime target”.
However, South Yorkshire Police have come under heavy fire for they way they were run at the height of the child grooming gang scandal. Speaking at this year’s Police Federation annual conference in May, Home Secretary Theresa May said she knows “some police officers like the comfort of ticking boxes” adding:
“If anyone is in any doubt about the perverse outcomes targets can cause, they need only look at the culture of South Yorkshire Police in the early part of the last decade.
“A police force allegedly so intent on meeting Home Office targets about car theft and burglary that it ignored hundreds of young girls being abused in Rotherham and Sheffield.
“Where resources followed those so-called ‘priority crimes’, and may have been diverted away from issues like rape and sexual violence that were not on the list.
“And a management culture, according to some whistleblowers, in which senior officers’ pay was linked to these targets, meaning that it was possible to indirectly reward officers for neglecting the victims of sexual abuse.”
South Yorkshire Police have been able to refuse to publish what bonuses were paid between 2002 and 2008 on the grounds that retrieving the information would be too “time-consuming”. Prior to 2009/10 no obligation existed to provide information on senior officers’ bonus payments and reverse engineering the accounting data is said to be too difficult.
The Star reports that in 2008/09 a £9,605 bonus was paid to former Chief Constable Med Hughes, who ran the force between 2004 and 2011. In 2009/10 he received a further bonus of £45,174.
Figures received by the newspaper show the deputy chief constable and director of finance shared bonuses of more than £13,000 in 2008/09. A year later three officers, being the deputy chief constable, the assistant chief constable for territorial operations and the director of finance, were paid bonuses of £23,740.
In 2010/11, a bonus of more than £15,000 was paid out to the deputy chief constable, the assistant chief constable for territorial operations and the director of finance. The same bonus was paid in 2011/12 to the same three staff members.
South Yorkshire Police say their policies have now changed. Under Chief Constable David Crompton no bonus payments have been made to senior officers and the force does not have policy allowing bonus payments or performance-related pay for meeting crime targets. A spokesman said:
“The current senior command team does not believe that senior officers need to be additionally rewarded for carrying out their duties to the best of their ability.”