Police pay should reflect officers' skills and performance rather than length of service, an influential thinktank has argued.
The current system does little to incentivise police officers to increase their skills, reflected in stagnant police productivity since 2001, the researchers added.
An Institute for Public Police Research (IPPR) report into police pay will accordingly call for a radical overhaul of police pay when it is published next month.
At present officers receive an annual rise of between two and six per cent in their first ten years, on top of the award set by the police arbitration tribunal.
But the IPPR report argues length of service is a poor measure for pay rises and fails to reward officers for expertise or undertaking the most difficult or dangerous work.
This in turn discourages officers from gaining specialist skills, leaving forces ill-equipped to tackle violence or gang related crimes.
Guy Lodge, IPPR senior research fellow, said: "We all know that the police do a difficult and challenging job but no system of pay is fair that rewards people solely on the basis of time served rather than their ability to do the job effectively.
"The current row over pay levels is preventing much-needed debate about how we reward police officers and how we deliver a high-performing police service."
The IPPR report is set to recommend pay bands apply for each rank, with a higher payment for specialist skills.
Underscoring the need for reform, the IPPR report points to evidence that police performance has not significantly improved since 1997 despite a "dramatic" fall in crime.
The researchers claim police productivity has been flat since 2001 despite funding increasing by 25 per cent in real terms.
The briefing comes as members of the Police Federation prepare to protest this Wednesday over police pay.