Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation
Nigel posts regular blog comments of issues of importance to policing and the BTPF in particular.
February 2017Here is my February Blog with further updates on what the National Executive is involved with on your behalf. Having now been in office for exactly 12 months, I hope these updates are assisting you in understanding what we do to represent your interests.
It has been a challenging 12 months, with some ups and downs, but I hope you will agree your Federation has demonstrated it is moving in the right direction regarding accountability. As well as these blogs, we're adding more information to our new-look website and social media too, so please keep an eye on those.
First and foremost, the BTP Federation has submitted written evidence regarding the Draft Scottish Railway Policing Bill to the Scottish Justice Select Committee. This submission can be viewed on the Scottish Parliament website. It is reassuring to note that many others have responded to the request to provide evidence regarding the draft Bill and are highlighting similar concerns about the integration.
The Justice Committee has invited the BTP Federation to the Scottish Parliament on 14 March 2017 to provide evidence to the Select Committee. Darren Townsend, the General Secretary and I will be in attendance to provide this evidence and this will be televised. Attempting to persuade the Scottish Government to move away from their proposal will not be an easy task. They are adamant about fully integrating BTP Scotland into Police Scotland, despite our objections. Our Federation stance is evidenced and substantiated by many others. The Scottish Government has not produced any evidence to demonstrate the benefits to the travelling public, Train Operating Companies, for safety on the railway or for policing operationally.
We hope the Justice Select Committee will acknowledge and re-evaluate the evidence delivered and that this will be reflected in the final decision regarding full integration and the draft Bill.
I am delighted to report that the outcome of the proposals to integrate the British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Home Office airport policing and the Ministry of Defence Police have been put on hold while options for collaborative working are explored.
The Home Office, Department for Transport and others have been asked to consider how adopting closer working practices could improve efficiency and operational effectiveness. Departments have also been asked to look at how current governance structures could be reshaped to achieve further integration of the forces in scope.
The Home Office has been asked to lead on drawing up an implementation plan for the next phase spanning the next three years and will call on the expertise of the relevant forces to assist in this task.
The commitment to "integrate infrastructure policing further and to review the options to do this" arose from the Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review. It was widely reported by the media that plans would establish a policing unit for rapid deployment in the event of a terror attack.
I personally welcome this more pragmatic approach to the recommendations set out in the Review. The security of the UK's infrastructure and the safety of the wider public are critically important. Efficiency is as much about capability and readiness as it is about finances; with this in mind we support plans to fully explore the benefits that collaborations can bring.
We now wait to see what closer working practices will come about from this recommendation.
I was asked, only recently "What does the Federation do for me"? A very pertinent question indeed.
Let me first assure you that what we are not doing is implementing new rosters, proposing rosters, nor dictating who works where and when.
Having worked rosters for over 25 years myself, I appreciate how sensitive and how impactive they can be, but they are also subjective; what suits one person does not necessarily suit the next. Our lives, our families and our roles in policing are different in so many ways and there is no roster that will meet all of our expectations.
The task of consulting over rosters has been possibly one of the most difficult tasks for the Federation, especially when you consider we are consulting on behalf of nearly 3,000 officers, which I am sure you will agree is a sizeable task. As difficult as that has been at times, that is exactly what this Federation have been doing, consulting; sometimes negotiating and certainly debating the rights and wrongs of rosters. I appreciate what is now being delivered is viewed by many as less than ideal. We have had lengthy deliberations, especially around none compliancy on certain rosters, and unfortunately the time for debating or consulting has now expired. Policing must continue and these rosters have been designed by BTP to meet the demand on the Force and the environment we police. The rosters have also been designed to prevent the continued poor practice of cancelling Rest Days for routine policing.
The design and debate has been ongoing for 18 months. We know that many of you want to move on from this period of uncertainty/insecurity and plan your future with friends and family during the valuable time you have off work.
The rosters commencing April 2017 are the 24/7, 19 hours, OSU, variable cover, CID and Supervisors. I would encourage you all to work with it but it is imperative that if the roster that you are working is not meeting its aims and objectives, you provide specific evidential feedback to your Federation representatives. We will be attending three-monthly reviews on the rosters and we will raise such evidence at the review meetings.
Understandably there is already some disquiet and we are aware of the two Force wide RD cancellations for major events in Cardiff. These cancellations could not come at a more unfortunate time, one being on the first weekend post implementation. This is very disappointing however, these two events are resource intensive and there is no roster that would prevent extra resources being required to police such large events. I have been assured it is only these types of events (the likes of Notting Hill Carnival, the Grand National etc) where cancellations like this will occur. Clearly the proof will be in the pudding.
As reported last month, I attended a meeting with the CID review on 31st January and it is fair to say that we had an interesting exchange of views and opinions. Nevertheless we cleared the air and some of our concerns were accepted.
The review team believes they have conducted meaningful consultation with those of you affected by the CID review. It was disappointing to hear that the pro-active officers are going to be filling gaps in the reactive roster until November 2017 when hopefully officers who have applied for the CID Pathway will fill those gaps. I have received concerns from many about the potential for a lack of resources, which I have shared with T/DC/Supt Bunyard. I am assured that this issue is being looked at and hopefully a solution will be found.
I'm personally still of the opinion that this review is being introduced prematurely without consideration for the lack of qualified resources to fulfill the newly proposed rosters. I have voiced my concern and will continue to do so. I have invited the DCC to place this on his risk register, as I believe it does pose a potential risk to BTP.
That said, again officers are requesting that they are allowed to plan their futures and start getting back to focusing on what they are paid to do rather than having one eye focusing on reviews and rosters. As of 24 February 2017, a 30-day consultation process has commenced for the supervisors rosters for the Reactive CID.
HMIC PEEL Inspection:
On 9 February 2017, I was invited for interview by the ongoing HMIC inspection. There were also a total of nine focus groups taking place during this inspection, which consisted of number ranking individuals from across the Force.
The PEEL assessments were introduced for Home Office Forces in 2014 and this is a pilot year for BTP in relation to the inclusion of PEEL. HMIC were inspecting BTP on Police Legitimacy, Efficiency and Leadership
- Legitimacy assesses whether the force operates fairly, ethically and within the law.
- Efficiency looks at how the Force provides value for money, how efficient the Force is at keeping people safe, and how it reduces crime in line with the effectiveness strand, which will take place at a later point this year.
- Leadership is an assessment of how well led the Force is at every rank and grade, with a focus on the organisational structures that help the Force to understand and develop leadership skills.
I feel I gave a true reflection on each and look forward to reading the findings and recommendations of this inspection. I hope that, despite the level of uncertainty and the numerous changes that have occurred over the last two years, the HMIC recognizes the steadfast determination and excellent work of BTP officers across the board. We should all be very proud of what we all achieve on a daily basis, guaranteeing a safe environment and allowing the public to travel safely no matter what their journey entails.
The proposed Flexible Working Policy has now been returned to the drawing board as we did not accept it in its current form. In addition, we continue to work on the draft of a Working Time Agreement with the Force. We have asked the Force to publish the long awaited new sickness policy and ill-health procedure and finally we are still chasing the overnight allowance.
DCC Hanstock has agreed to chair the National Negotiating Meetings (NNM), which occurs every other month. These meetings are designed to discuss and negotiate any changes to your terms and conditions. The reason we have invited Mr. Hanstock to the meeting is to hopefully prevent the continued tennis match of agreements/failures to agree on changes which seem to disappear into the ether - very much like the overnight allowance - without ever being resolved.
Clearly pay was another issue this month, as several you did not receive the correct income. Once this was identified to the Force I am happy to report that they immediately acted by submitting bank transfers. There is an acknowledgement that all is not well with the pay department and the Force are looking at addressing this sooner rather than later. I hope all officers, especially the 220 who received bank transfers, received their correct salary and I sincerely hope there is no repeat.
Finally, the Federation is continuing to plan for our annual conference. After conducting national elections across the country we now have full committee boards with representatives from across the entire Force. I would like to welcome all new elected representatives and thank those who were re-elected for their continued commitment. We will have the opportunity to meet at the annual conference, which this year will be in Cardiff.
We have various VIP guests attending from Government Ministers, Minsters from the Welsh assembly, Senior Police officers, the BTPA Interim Chief Executive, other Police Federations and all the newly elected delegates/representatives. It is going to be a very busy conference commencing with an awards ceremony, which will be sponsored this year by Police Mutual. The theme of conference is welfare and we will highlight how good BTP officers are at policing the environment regardless of the circumstances.
Quote for the month: Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.