The lawyer whose review of police pay and conditions led to 30,000 officers taking to the streets in protest is set to become the next Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
Tom Winsor, whose two reports were part of the most wide-ranging review of policing in more than 30 years, was named as Home Secretary Theresa May's preferred candidate for the £200,000-a-year role.
But the move prompted anger and surprise among rank-and-file officers, with much criticism focusing on Mr Winsor's lack of policing experience.
He is a "risky if not reckless choice" which could damage the reputation of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), said Matt Cavanagh, of the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank. "As well as putting the relationship between Government and the police under further strain, this provocative choice could put at risk the growing reputation and contribution of HMIC at a crucial time," he said.
Mr Winsor, 54, would be the first civilian to take up the role since the inspectorate was first established in 1856. He has been put forward by the Home Office to replace Sir Denis O'Connor, who retires at the end of next month, overseeing the functioning and performance of police forces.
But first he is likely to face tough questions from members of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee next week before his appointment can be sent to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Queen for approval. Committee chairman Keith Vaz said he was "looking forward" to hearing from Mr Winsor, with whom he has clashed during previous hearings. Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said she was "stunned" by the decision, saying she could not even believe reports that Mr Winsor had applied.
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said that "if ever there was a need for sagacious advice from someone with a profound understanding of policing it is now".
Paul McKeever, the federation's chairman, said: "We warned the Home Secretary there would be riots, crime would rise and that 20% cuts would have a detrimental effect on the policing front line, putting public safety at risk, and we were called scaremongers. We look forward to hearing from the Home Secretary how the appointment of Tom Winsor provides the profound understanding of policing that is so important for public safety." The Police Federation's inspecting ranks central committee said the decision "simply beggars belief".
Mrs May was heckled, booed and jeered at the federation's annual conference in Bournemouth last month, just a week after some 30,000 officers marched through central London in protest over Mr Winsor's proposed reforms, most of which have been accepted.
He called for the current police pay system, based on a 1920s model of rewarding years of service, to be overhauled and replaced with one that recognised hard work and merit instead. Among the more controversial proposals in his two reports, Mr Winsor recommended that police constables' starting salaries should be cut by up to £4,500 and that the retirement age should be raised to 60. He also proposed scrapping a series of allowances and special payments intended to save £60 million a year in overtime.