Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation
Nigel posts regular blog comments of issues of importance to policing and the BTPF in particular.
Since my last update in May, the Federation has been busy in the main discussing the future of BTP in various forums.
In the first week of June, I visited the Police Federation of Northern Ireland in Belfast at their annual conference. What was interesting (but perhaps not surprising) is that the concerns the PFNI Chairman expressed were very similar to those of the BTP Federation members.
One of the concerns at the top of agenda is the cancellation of rest days. Northern Ireland officers have only 6 ringed fenced rest days throughout the year that are guaranteed; this appeared to be an acceptable norm. Obviously rest day cancellations although unpopular are now a common practice across the country.
Notwithstanding this I regularly raise concerns on behalf of the Federation regarding the application of the regulations and the circumstances in which officers have their rest days cancelled. DCC Hanstock has tasked Ch/Supt Davies to look at this particular problem in detail ensuring BTP are not breaching Police Regulations, but more importantly are not relying on officers' goodwill to get the job done. BTP have been warned by the Federation that this goodwill is slowly eroding. We hope under the instructions of the DCC that officers will see a change in these poor practices in the very near future.
On the subject of rest days and rosters I attended a Demand Review meeting and I'm sure you have all seen the DCC message circulated only last week which outlines where this project is heading. The Force has conducted drop in sessions and critical review meetings where not only the Federation have been involved but operational officers have had an input too.
It is very reassuring to see that officers have felt able to add some constructive feedback at these meetings, which has been acted upon by the project team resulting in changes to proposed rosters. The 24/7 roster is not complete but I believe we are not far from finding a workable roster for the majority of officers.
The Demand Project is now moving towards the 24/7 London roster and a supervisors' roster. I am more than confident that these reviews will be conducted in a similar vein where we reach a point of having a roster that meets the demand and offers a better work life balance for officers. We now watch this space.
On 15th June, our General Secretary, Darren Townsend and I were invited to the Home Office to discuss the proposal of the Infrastructure Review. The Civil Nuclear Police Federation and Ministry of Defence Police Federation were present but unfortunately the PFEW were unable to attend. We had a lengthy discussion on what the future may hold for all forces and were informed that a report is being submitted to ministers to read and digest over the summer recess to determine if Government want an infrastructure Police Force and if so what it would look like and how it would operate. We will have to await the return of politicians from the holidays (possibly late September) before we actually have confirmation of anything tangible. Again, I will update you once I have any news.
I have also attended a Crime Review meeting with DCS Bunyard who updated us regarding the situation with this particular project. I am now informed that the business case has been reviewed and resubmitted to the Force Executive Board (FEB). The review group will now produce a consultation document that will go to public consultation including stakeholders and will hopefully allow the review body to report back to FEB by October 2016. This means that any potential changes will not be implemented until April 2017 at the earliest. Again this review body is intending on visiting locations around the force to obtain your views and opinions. I would therefore encourage anyone in the CID arena to participate in these visits.
Other meetings that I have attended this month include a LINK meeting, chaired by DCC Hanstock. This meeting was about future events policing including BTP members of LINK, but additionally provided an opportunity for me to introduce myself and encourage LINK to work in unison with the Federation.
Darren Townsend and I attended Springhouse and spoke with the trainers who are having their rest days cancelled. They also raised concerns about communications within the Federation. We had an open and frank discussion and I believe we were able to alleviate some of their concerns as well as taking some ideas away with us to work on in the future.
On Wednesday last week, the Scottish Government published their consultation document on the proposal of merging BTP Scotland with The Police Service of Scotland. Clearly this is concerning for our BTP colleagues in Scotland and we intend to formally respond to this document in the very near future and will update you shortly.
Going forward we have plans to speak with L&D regarding the JRFT and an alternative method of taking the test. We are looking to meet with the BTPA to discuss the Force producing and publishing a full version of BTP Police Regulations to provide clarity as to which regulations the BTP rely on. We are also still waiting to meet with the BTPA with regards to the failure to agree on the overnight allowance and the new sickness policy. PSD also wish to meet with all staff associations this month regarding updating policies on the use of force and substance misuse. We look forward to such.
The Federation is looking at new insurance schemes for our members, identifying potential award winners for the Award of Excellence dinner in March next year and improving how we communicate with you. We are working with Gemma Pettman, a PR advisor who is experienced in working with the police service. Hopefully members have seen an improvement in the way we used social media. Changes to our website and internal communications will follow. We are also working more closely with the Police Treatment Centres and the Police Dependants Trust, two organisations that provide excellent services to our members and families in difficult times. Keep your eyes on our website for further updates.
I hope you find this update informative and beneficial and that it gives you confidence that your Federation are working in your best interests.
Chairman BTP Federation