The police Pay Progression Standard (PPS) has slipped under the radar of most officers. This significant change in Police Regulations was made a year ago, along with removal of the much-dreaded ‘ARC’. But most cops are unaware it comes into force on 1st April 2023, across all police forces in England and Wales. 

Gone are the days of automatically moving to the police pay scales within your rank. This determination is written under the Police Regulations 24 (“Annex F (Amendments) – Pay”). It essentially means you must demonstrate competence, have a PDR, and be up to date on training, to get your annual pay increases. Officers around the country are quietly coming to realise this; hopefully not too late for those due their salary increase in April…

What is the Police Pay Progression Standard?

Police pay progression standard summary

So, what is the Pay Progression Standard exactly, where and when did it come from, and who does the new standard affect? 

The police Pay Progression Standard is part of new amendments to police regulations, made on 18 March 2022. Regulation 24 now sets out that incremental progression through the police pay scales is dependent upon confirmation that officers meet the pay progression standard conditions. PPS now directly links your competence in rank and annual performance reviews as conditions to progressing through the pay points of your pay scale.

In terms of who it affects, all Federated and Superintendent ranks are included, plus Assistant Chief Constables. Clearly this doesn’t affect those already at the top of the pay scale for their rank (and so are subject to the well-publicised below-inflation police pay awards in recent years). But it does affect all those not yet at the top salary point of their rank.

Given that progression within the rank constitutes the biggest pay rise for most officers each year (as I demonstrate in my blog on UK police officer salary changes), these changes are a massive deal in today’s challenging financial situation. For example, between year 6 and year 7 as a PC, the movement up the pay scale equates to a 17% increase, from £37k to £43k.

Police pay progression standard

Whilst there are exceptions and exemptions, I include a snapshot of what the new standard entails above, which are detailed in paragraph 8. In plain English, these new PPS conditions with effect from 1st April 2023 are:

  • You have completed an annual Personal Development Review (PDR)
  • You are not subject to formal action (Stages 1, 2 or 3) of the Unsatisfactory Performance or Attendance Procedures
  • You have completed any relevant training required 
  • You’ve done the PDRs and assessed the PPS of anyone directly under your command (Sergeants and Inspectors take note!).

The official PPS guidance explains further:

  • PDR means an annual performance assessment, in line with the processes in place within the officer’s own force, including an appeals process.
  • Training required for the purposes of the PPS means no more than two training priorities, which the chief officer may mandate, in consideration of the local priorities of a police force, or the requirements of an individual role.
  • A member must be notified of the training requirements they are required to comply with no less than 12 months before their PPS confirmation date, or within one month of promotion.

Forces must have taken all reasonable steps to have PPS-compliant assessment and confirmation processes, in accordance with the amended regulation. You might have even noticed changes being announced to your force PDR processes.

However, most cops unfortunately seem completely unaware of this development. As April approaches, forces’ HR and Finance teams will no doubt be inundated with unhappy cops, unsighted on these changes to police regs!

Your PDR: Now Linked to Pay and Progression

Police PDR annual appraisal

Historically speaking, Performance and Development Reviews (PDRs), aka ‘appraisals’, have been a controversial subject in policing. This may still be the case in many forces. Often despised by many officers and supervisors alike, but this is largely down to poor application or how individual forces overcomplicate the concepts, by burdening officers with confusing IT systems and mandating complex, bureaucratic forms. 

Despite their bad rap, PDRs are an essential tool for police leaders and supervisors to manage and support officers and police staff under their command. Many officers dread the annual appraisal process, finding it all a bit like sucking on lemons. 

That said, I recently ran a short Twitter Poll following reports within the Baroness Casey review that the police promotion process was unfair. I therefore asked how aspiring promotion candidates should be fairly assessed. Guess what? PDRs came out as a preferred method!

So, what’s the point of PDRs and why bother doing them? A back-to-basics approach helps get to the core of what it’s all about: Reviewing performance and considering the development of your team.

In essence, PDRs are an opportunity to build and maintain trust and confidence. A chance to communicate and inform. A way to inspire and support people by providing or seeking constructive feedback. In short, to let individuals know ‘how they are doing’. It facilitates meaningful 1-to-1 time with a supportive, caring, emotionally aware supervisor, allowing individuals to articulate in confidence things that may be affecting their performance (which may not have otherwise been identified). 

Here’s the thing: Many officers unfortunately never experience a PDR in this way. 

With PPS, the important change from now on includes the fact that this aspect of personal performance and assessment of competence in rank will be directly linked to pay and progression

As alluded to in the PPS guidance, if you have direct responsibility for completion of officers’ PDRs on the teams you manage or under your command, you must have completed their PDRs and made the PPS decisions within the timescales. Such decisions extends to the completion of relevant mandated training requirements (e.g. those beloved NCALT and manual handling eLearning packages!).

Maybe this will force PDRs to get better and more meaningful in policing. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking,

“OK, I get it, but my force has never got PDRs right. This is a lot to take in and I don’t want to let individuals down; I need to upskill on this quickly. Where can I find guidance?”

Well, as a first port of call, your force should by now be ship shape and ready to go with meaningful support and guidance. If that’s not the case, here’s my blog on PDR’s and what good looks like, to support your thinking and leadership approach.

“Conversations about performance should be rooted in our everyday activities. Regardless of any personal aspirations, everyone should know how their contributions help drive our priorities and keep the people and communities safe.” – Police Scotland ‘My Career’ guidance

Kind Regards, Steve

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