Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation
Nigel posts regular blog comments of issues of importance to policing and the BTPF in particular.
Colleagues, here is the final Federation blog of the year. It's a slightly different format to our usual posts as I primarily wanted to report back to you on some matters we have recently discussed with our Chief Constable.
This month's National Negotiating Meeting had to be postponed but I was thankful for the opportunity to still meet with the Chief as we are awaiting updates on several issues:
Job Related Fitness Test
As you will recall from previous blogs, BTP Federation has submitted a paper inviting the Force to suspend the JRFT. We believe the whole fitness testing system is now so flawed that the only viable answer is to immediately suspend it and look to the new Police Officer Safety Training curriculum that's being developed.
Our argument is based on the Equality Impact Assessment (EAI) produced in 2003 when the test was simply designed for new recruits entering service. This EAI has not changed since the introduction of the guidance from the College of Policing back in 2014 and remains the same to this day. We now know, from research commissioned by the College of Policing, that the current test is not actually assessing the level of fitness required for officers to complete the Police Officer Safety Training, hence why a new PST curriculum is being explored.
It is therefore our view that the current test is not achieving any relevant aim or objective and it is also potentially discriminating against certain groups of officers. Having discussed this with the Chief Constable early this month, she is still undecided what action to take.
The Chief Constable has agreed to trial the 'six on, four off' style roster, which is currently under review by T/Chief Supt Glen Alderson. The plan is to allow for all 24/7 posts throughout C and D Division to trial the roster to determine if there are benefits to officer wellbeing, whilst still delivering our operational integrity.
I have asked that consideration is also given to include B Division officers, however this is subject to discussions due to a recent restructure on B Division and the impact of officers being asked to make changes again, less than 12 months since the last changes.
The decision regarding rosters is a positive step and the Federation will be invited to the consultation process which will commence in the New Year. Consideration may be given to changing the rosters of non-24/7 posts if there is demand, but this will not be mandated, rather it will be a consideration for those locations. The Federation Reps that will be involved are Stuart Cowan from D Division and Cath Daley from C Division. If B Division does come on board, obviously a B Division rep will be identified too.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding this allowance and some of you who attended COP26 will have received an email from ACC O'Callaghan about payment of this allowance for this operation. I for one am very grateful for Mr O'Callaghan's approach and honesty. We raised a concern, and it was addressed immediately and hopefully all officers have received full payment now.
Overnight allowance is always a topic of interest, and some may remember that BTP took a stance back in 2015 to not pay this allowance as recommended by the Winsor review. This was challenged and BTP does now pay the allowance when deemed appropriate. However, it is acknowledged that the debate continues with regards to when you should and shouldn't receive it. That debate has moved towards the proposal that a new policy is required to identify exactly when the allowance is paid.
The Federation stance is that every officer is entitled to go home at the end of their working day, regardless of hours worked, shifts or operations. However, if that basic principle is NOT allowed and officers are instructed or prevented from going home at the end of the working day then they should be compensated for it.
As an example, if you are instructed to work on an operation and you are told you will have to stay overnight in accommodation provided regardless of the reasons, you should be paid the allowance. If you are invited to stay overnight and accommodation is provided but you are able to go home, and it is your personal choice to stay away then the allowance isn't paid. If, however you are invited, accommodation is provided, but due to operational reasons known in advance prior to attending the location that you are unable to return home due to distance, travel or hours being worked then again, the allowance should be paid.
The Federation view is simple: if you are being prevented from returning home at the end of your working day due to an operational requirement should be compensated for such. This is still being debated and considered.
Still under consideration
Other items still being considered by the Force include covert carrying of Taser; Movement of Officers policy; Higher Grade Duties; maternity/paternity pay; child loss leave; private health care. We do follow-up on these matters regularly and hope to have updates we can share with you in the new year.
BTP is now a DriverMetrics force and will have a contract for the next five years. For those who haven't heard of it, DriverMetrics is described as 'The world's number one behavioural driver safety programme.'
The aim is to start rolling out DriverMetrics assessments for drivers of BTP vehicles next year, but we are reassured this is not about finding faults or issues. It's a way to support officers and understand the risk associated with driving police vehicles - especially response and advanced drivers - and developing individual's skills. This is about coaching and mentoring not punishing officers and preventing them from driving.
Again, we can see the positives and we now wait for the roll-out of the assessments to support your wellbeing and development. Mark Stook from B Division South is the Federation lead and if you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to contact him at: email@example.com
We are now back to policing COVID regulations and you are again adopting the four E approach to policing face coverings. While you continue to do an excellent job on the front line, many others are being impacted with regards to the new variant and we are being asked what the current rules are.
The best advice we can offer is that you regularly check the BTP microsite as this is kept updated with the latest guidance from Government as well as Force policy. Any updates that we receive will be shared more widely but the microsite is the most consistent source of up-to-date information.
Police Treatment Centres
I am pleased to report that the Police Treatment Centres charity is now open to Police Staff investigators (including CSI's and civilian investigators). These new groups are eligible to sign up to the PTC at the usual serving officer rate of £7.80 per month and they can do this via the PTC website and by direct debit.
Furthermore, during the months of January and February 2022 the PTC will be offering an Amnesty for these groups so that if they sign up during this time, they can access treatment without the usual 12 months wait.
Our national election process is underway so if you are interested in becoming a Federation rep but haven't yet submitted your nomination form, you have plenty of time as the closing date is not until 14 January. Information packs have been circulated by email, but you can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The independent review of the Federation is also getting underway. The review team comprises an Independent Chair from a police charity, a Federation rep from the Metropolitan Police, an ex-Police Inspector from City of London Police, an independent IT expert, an HR Director from Sage and a former Conduct Lead from Kent Police. This review will run until June 2022 and between now and then we will be seeking feedback from you, the members, our reps and the independent review team resulting in recommendations that will be reported by July 2022. Keep an on our website and future blogs for regular updates on progress.
In other news
There seems to be a growing trend of officers taking to social media to criticise the Force or the Federation about current terms and conditions. There have been examples recently where officers aren't asking questions, seeking explanations or checking facts before going online and making sweeping statements.
I know it is frustrating when we don't get the answers to our concerns, to our queries or to our questions, whether that's due to availability, access to IT or simply because no-one seems to know the answer. Nevertheless, I would respectfully request that if you are in any doubt about your terms and conditions and you haven't received what you expect, then first and foremost you should go through the chain of command to address your issue. If you don't have any success with line managers, then your next port of call should be with the relevant department relating to that particular concern. If you still don't achieve what you need then please contact your local Federation representative.
Posting your feelings, views and opinions on social media without first attempting to resolve issues internally is detrimental and counterproductive. Problems don't get fixed this way; the main outcome is everyone feeling even more frustrated, especially if the information shared is wrong. Some of the commentary from serving officers is also such that I must remind you that we are police officers, there are standards of professional behaviour and respect for others is a key part of those standards.
Something an old DI taught me is that when you speak the truth and are challenged, ask people to 'point to the lies'. It has seen me through more than 30 years of policing - the truth will always shine through. So, a plea from me to all, is if you're in any doubt about an issue, haven't received something you were expecting or hear rumours that concern you, please seek clarity and confirmation. By all means contact me or your local rep and hopefully we can resolve your concerns rather than it being aired on social media for all and sundry.
My Christmas message will be shared shortly along with a video we have made to highlight the exceptional work you have been doing on and off duty. I hope you will take the time to watch both.
Thank you for your hard work again this year. We are proud to represent you and share examples of the brilliant work you're doing. If you can take a break over Christmas or New Year and spend time with the people who matter most to you, please do. It has been another tough year.
I hope this update is of benefit to you all. As always if you have any questions, queries or concerns regarding these updates then please don't hesitate to contact me.
[Please note, some items have been removed from this, the public version, of the blog. The full edition has been emailed to members].