Police unions have called for a re-design of the “top-heavy” police service to bring greater resources to the coalface of crime-fighting and for less money to be spent on salaries for the top brass.

Unions made their case directly to the new national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, who, accompanied by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, paid the parliamentary police committee an impromptu first visit on Tuesday.

The meeting was led by ANC MP Annelize van Wyk in the absence of Sindi Chikunga, who became deputy minister of transport last week.

Phiyega assured members she was “ready to serve with a sense of honour, pride and deep humility” and committed the police service to a process of “continuous improvement”.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) called for greater spending on training courses for its members. Union officials said they did not want to hear police managers reporting on the number of “diversity courses” – courses to sensitise officers to racial diversity – but that the money should instead be spent on training courses offering “real operational benefits”.

Popcru also suggested that subsidised tertiary educational courses offered to senior staff be extended to junior members.

“This bloated structure has adverse effects on the department’s prospects to adequately employ and distribute sufficient personnel at station level, where person power is really needed.

“A revised structure should incorporate decentralisation of work and authority, with special skills deployed to the station level,” Popcru said.

Political Bureau