Jake Berry is the Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen. Follow Jake on Twitter.
Figures revealed recently show ten forces spent £1.5m on the perk for top officers from their “hard pressed police budgets" in 2011; enough to pay for over 60 new Police Constables or 95 new PCSOs.
As Conservatives we should rightly be proud of our commitment to increase the NHS budget in each year of this parliament. However, for us to achieve this in the current constrained fiscal environment, other budgets have to be carefully managed. The Police budget has been no exception, with rank and file officers having to accept a once-in-a-generation change in pay and conditions, to balance the books and keep police on the front line.
Given all of this, it is an affront to every taxpayer that top officers receive free private health care. If the NHS is good enough for a bobby on the beat, injured in the line of duty, it is good enough for the top officers sat behind their desks.
The election of Police and Crime Commissioners is a chance to ensure that the Conservative principle of paying taxes to support the NHS is upheld; this should not extend to taxpayers paying private health premiums - after all why should we pay for the same thing twice?
This is why I have written to every Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate asking them to commit, when the opportunity arises, to stop taxpayers funding private healthcare in police forces.
If top officers taking home their six figure salaries wish to purchase private health cover, they are of course free to do so - but don't ask the taxpayer to foot the bill.
This is among the last vestiges of Labour’s Age of public sector excess; Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidates have the opportunity to end this unnecessary taxpayer funded perk.