The Garda should take pay cuts to maintain numbers – discuss

1224242572490_1aaaaSo it seems that the police are running out of money, with reports (here, here) that the force will not have the funds this year to pay for its complement. The commissioner has stated before that he would not like to see, and would feel that he cant really deliver a service, if numbers fall below 13,000. Complement now stands at 13,400.  If you are unsure of what a police officer in modern ireland actually does see this reflection of an officer leaving. I suspect that the cuts in numbers will, as usual, fall on frontline services. When, as RTE news reports this morning, the first person appointed in a murder investigation is not a lead detective, or a forensic analyst, but a financial controller, we have left logic far behind and are on the shores of la-la land.

There is a bit of a meme out there that instead of cutting numbers we should cut pay in the public service. Without doubt there are areas where police pay is rather….strange. There are lots of unusual allowances and these need to be worked out over time. But the principle, of cutting pay and retaining numbers, is interesting. The logic, that instead of cutting 10% of the force we should cut 10% of the pay from the existing force, is one of the seductive logical traps. Why not cut 20%, and INCREASE the force. Hell, why not cut 50%, or 85% and get a cop on every corner? Of course, thats never argued. But its the logical counterpart of this.

Karl Whelan once noted to me that there are a lot of people out there who feel that any wage greater than zero is too much for public sector workers. Hes right, I think….

5 thoughts on “The Garda should take pay cuts to maintain numbers – discuss

  1. Brian Mulligan

    In light of Mike’s comment should we not increase the pay and reduce the numbers further (ad infinitum). This is an optimisation problem – there is an optimal pay and number out there that we could estimate if it were feasible to do the analysis. Why would you assume that we are at the optimum at the moment? Of course there is a third option. Work smarter not harder. Are we sure that the system is run efficiently? Does the system have to degrade if we reduce the numbers? It is interesting to note that when the HSE is put under severe financial pressure they begin to find better ways to do things. I would imagine that there is some micro-economic theory for this idea.

    1. brianmlucey Post author

      agree with all that Brian. We are, ITIR, underpoliced by international norms, and I suspect that the lack of investment in human, managerial and technical capital means we are significantly more inefficient. The HSE is so vast and sprawling that im not sure its a good comparator. But change will require investment – we dont have decent police computer systems, and so on. Its yet another omnishambles.

  2. Brian Mulligan

    In the absence of an optimisation analysis international norms are probably a useful guide. How are we on pay in that regard? (or cost of policing per capita?). Of course, if our current spending per capita of policing were brought into line with international norms that is no guarantee that effectiveness would be similar. Some people might argue that inefficiency within the system might justify pay rates lower than international norms.

  3. Fergus O'Rourke

    “Karl Whelan once noted to me that there are a lot of people out there who feel that any wage greater than zero is too much for public sector workers. Hes right, I think….”

    An economist in a different Dublin university once suggested the same in regard to workers in a certain financial institution.

    He was wrong.

    The End.

    P.S. I never see you on Twitter any more. The level of discussion is lower in consequence.


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