During his first full year in charge of the county’s police force the Chief Constable of Kent, Alan Pughsley, took almost three months’ paid leave. He was also entitled to an extra eight days off for bank holidays.
The figure relates to 2014-2015 and was among data released to a national newspaper under a Freedom of Information request, and confirmed to this newspaper by Kent Police.
In the same year that he took 56 days off, the county’s top officer cost tax-payers £235,898, making him one of the highest paid policemen in the UK. At the time he was shedding police jobs, citing a budget shortfall.
The time off has been described by the TaxPayers’ Alliance as ‘indefensible’. New police recruits receive £23,000 a year and are entitled to 22 days holiday.
Mr Pughsley was promoted from the role of Deputy Chief Constable in January 2014. His salary of £198,723 included a housing allowance of £6,801 for his home, thought to be a £1million house in Chislehurst. Under police regulations, officers are entitled to a housing allowance or rent allowance.
His salary also included a compensatory grant of £4,508, which ref-unds the tax paid on the allowance, again in accordance with police regulations.
A pension contribution of £37,175 brought the Chief Constable’s earnings to almost a quarter of a million pounds.
The Prime Minister receives a total annual salary of £143,462.
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Housing allowances and huge salaries are a scandalous way to spend taxpayers’ money when budgets are so tight and front-line staff are being cut.
“Of course, bosses are entitled to annual leave, but receiving over 50 days’ holiday in one year is surely indefensible.
“This sort of largesse isn’t found in the private sector and so there seems little justification for these additional perks at the taxpayers’ expense. They should be cut back to reflect the current need to make urgent savings.”
Mr Pughsley arrived at a time when the force had trimmed £53million from its budget and cut 1,200 jobs, including 500 front-line officers.
Just days after taking over, he declared that another £20million had to be cut for 2015-16, including the loss of up to 100 officers.
He also announced that iPads and telephones would be used to respond to minor incidents to reduce the outlay on call-outs.
Steve White, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents front-line officers, said:
“In a current policing structure that doesn’t allow for a reduction in the number of forces in England and Wales, it’s easy to see why eyebrows are raised at the cost of keeping 43 chief officers in post and whether this is really the best use of public money.”
A spokesman for Kent Police said that Mr Pughsley’s standard holiday entitlement is 48 days, with the additional eight days taken in 2014-15 a result of carrying over annual leave from the previous year.
He added: “When senior officers apply for annual leave, it is done in consultation with other members of the chief officer team and this ensures the force is left with cover at the highest level at all times.
“Mr Pughsley provides his own car for 24/7 policing duties, whereas previous chief constables were provided with a car.
“Chief Constable Pughsley’s salary, allowances and annual leave entitlement are in line with national guidance and independently set.
“The terms and conditions of his salary are in line with pay scales set out under the Police Regulations 2003, which are set by the Home Office following independent consideration by the Senior Salaries Review Body.”
Kent Police & Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott made saving money an election pledge, but has backed the package given to Chief Constable Alan Pughsley.
“The terms of employment for the Chief Constable – including his salary and annual leave entitlement – are set by the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, and I am satisfied that they are in line with the Home Office’s national guidelines set out in the Police Regulations 2003,” he said.
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S BACKGROUND…
Alan Pughsley previously worked at the Metropolitan Police Service, beginning in 1984.
He was in specialist units in London and the south east, including those dealing with kidnaps and contract killings, before heading up the joint Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, one of the largest in the country.
He also served as Borough Commander in Lewisham, south-east London, and worked at Surrey Police as a Detective Superintendent.
He joined Kent Police in 2009 and was appointed Deputy Chief Constable for Kent in March 2011, when he was responsible for quality performance and the efficient delivery of services, before becoming Chief Constable in January 2014.
He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service in July 2015.