Starting salaries for police, fire and other disciplined services officers are set to be cut by up to 17 per cent. The reductions would save $24 million a year and bring wages in line with the private sector, the Government said. An independent panel yesterday recommended reductions of between three and 17 per cent in entry-level pay for the seven disciplined services following similar proposals for civilian government staff. The changes reflected wages offered in the private sector for jobs with similar qualifications, officials said. Civilian new recruits have already been told they face cuts of between six and 31 per cent, depending on the education required for the posts. That would save $160 million a year. The Standing Committee on the Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service, which made the recommendations, said the pay of disciplined personnel reflected not only educational qualifications, but special factors such as the dangerous nature of their duties. The committee suggested imposing the same percentage cut as civilian staff on that part of the pay they believed reflected the educational benchmark. The overall reduction would thus be smaller. A Civil Service Bureau spokesman said: 'We recognise that there are differences between the disciplined services and the rest of the civil service and these must be considered carefully.' Departments to be affected are police, correctional services, fire services, immigration, Customs and excise, the Government Flying Service and the ICAC. A potential police inspector with a university degree would face a pay cut from $32,380 to $26,955, or 16.75 per cent. An Independent Commission Against Corruption officer with similar qualifications would be the hardest hit, with pay slashed 16.99 per cent from $31,195 to $25,895. A rank-and-file police constable with a secondary-school education, now paid $15,995, would earn $475 or 2.97 per cent less. A fireman with a secondary-school education would see a reduction from $14,100 to $13,710, a 2.77 per cent decrease. Disciplined Services Consultative Council staff chairman Stephen Wong Wai-hung said the proposal was acceptable. 'We are pleased that the special nature of the disciplined forces has been recognised. 'As pay based on education in the private sector has fallen, government employees have no reason not to follow,' Mr Wong said. Police Inspectors Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming welcomed the fact that the differences in pay among various disciplined forces had been kept intact.