Welcome to the website for the British Transport Police Federation

Nigel Goodband
Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation

Nigel posts regular blog comments of issues of importance to policing and the BTPF in particular.

British Transport
Police Federation
May 2022

Chairman's Blog


National Chair Colleagues, here is the Federation blog for May 2022. I wish to start this blog by firstly congratulating Stuart Cowan from D Division who will be your next National Chair of BTP Federation.

Stuart Cowan joined BTP in 2005, initially serving in Edinburgh. His background is as a response officer, but he has also worked Neighbourhood Policing. Stuart became a Federation rep in 2016. He is currently the Secretary of the D Division (Scotland) committee and national lead for Health and Safety.

Congratulations to Stuart, who I know will be a fantastic Chair for BTP Federation. His leadership style will shine through, and he will continue with rigour and determination to represent our brave, dedicated and brilliant officers.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all who stood for election. It is never easy standing against your colleagues and asking your peers to choose between you. Thanks to all who had the courage to stand and to our delegates for voting.

Finally, I would also like to congratulate Chief Supt England on her promotion this month to C Division Commander. I've personally known Sandra for most of her career in BTP and I can honestly say that the Federation and I look forward to working with her.

Special Constables and Taser

This month we have attended a number of meetings, including a trip to Manchester for the Police Federation of England and Wales national annual conference. As you may have noticed there were a few headlines that came from this conference and headlines that are relevant not only to Home Office forces but for all police officers throughout the UK.

The one item that was of benefit to us as a Force was the announcement that Special Constables will be able carry Taser and also join the Federation. I had some interesting discussions with some of my Home Office Colleagues about this decision and I have to admit there are some divided opinions. However, we welcome the Home Secretary's announcement and believe its great news. We are the first force in England and Wales and the only national force to allow BTP Specials to become members of the Federation. We have always believed that those who volunteer their time to put on a uniform and support frontline officers throughout the country deserve the same protection as regular police officers. So, in January 2021 BTP Federation welcomed BTP Specials as members of the Federation. Not only did this offer the same protection for Specials as regular officers, but also allowed Special Constables to join the group insurance which provides wider benefits and support, as experienced by our regular colleagues.

Once we achieved the aim of allowing Special Constables to be members of the Federation, we, jointly with the Force and the backing of our newly appointed Chief Constable, spoke about equipping Specials with some of the skills of regular officers and the ability to carry Taser. The view of some was that Specials could not carry Taser due to the lack of legal support if they were investigated having deployed Taser, especially in a DSI situation. The fact that BTP Federation now supports Special Constables as members, eradicates any fears around support and legal protection. The next stumbling block was legislation and authority from the Home Secretary. Thankfully that's now all in place and our Special Constables who have completed more than 12 months service, have achieved directed patrol status and have completed the same course as any other Taser trained officer should now be able to carry Taser.

There are a couple of internal Force processes to complete and hopefully the Chief will make an announcement shortly. I would take this opportunity to thank the Chief Constable and Ben Clifford, Chief Officer of the BTP Special Constabulary, for their support, guidance and assistance in achieving this moment of history for BTP.

Pay

As you might expect, there was considerable debate at the PFEW conference about pay and this Governments reluctance to address the inequality in pay for police officers compared to other public sector workers. In typical fashion the Home Secretary committed to very little, other than to say she is willing to work with the Federation and the PRRB to look at police pay and explore what can be done to address our concerns. So, no great news, no announcements of a 5%, 10% increase in salary. However, in a meeting this month with our own Chief Constable we raised concerns about how some of our officers are experiencing financial hardship. There seems to be no let-up from the pressures of increased fuel, food and housing costs.

I have to say the Chief was very sympathetic and supportive in exploring ways where we can help officers in this difficult financial climate. Clearly there's no extra money, no magic wand and no quick fix answers. Nevertheless, the Chief is committed to exploring ways we can make some difference, however small or large. The reason for mentioning this is to reassure you all that this agenda item hasn't gone away and nor will it. We will keep asking and inviting the Force to look at ways to lift some of the financial burden's officers are experiencing.

I once stated that our focus has to be on those younger officers and staff who are on the lower income scales, however having listened to DC Vicky Knight from North Wales Police who bravely described her personal circumstances to the Home Secretary at the PFEW conference, I appreciate the financial crisis has far wider implications. DC Knight described being a full-time police officer whilst being a single mother living on one household income. Her income does not allow for any flexibility, any holidays or treats. In fact, she described having to borrow money from her parents to pay for her child's lunches and fuel. Having served for 23 years she has been advised to leave and get a part-time job and claim benefits. It made me realise that it's not just those on lower pay scales; depending on your personal circumstances we could all be experiencing some form of hardship and anxiety regarding paying bills and affording to put food on the family's table.

So, as a Federation I can assure you that we will continually look at ways to support our members and encourage the Force to do the same. It cannot be right that any public servant should be considering leaving their vocation to achieve a better standard of living by claiming benefits. If that happens then the public sector is truly broken. I was shocked that PFEW voted to increase their membership subscriptions and want to reiterate that we are not taking the same step this year; subscriptions will remain the same. It's a small gesture but one that will hopefully help members to remain part of the Federation.

Conduct matters

In other news, you may have seen that BTP vetting team has now obtained ISO 9001 accreditation. I am led to believe BTP is only the second force to achieve such accreditation. The recent increase in resources in the vetting team and this accreditation will hopefully assist BTP in its recruitment campaign and building trust in the vetting process. Remember, if there are any changes to your personal circumstances you must report them to the vetting team. If you are ever in doubt about what you should or should not disclose then please simply email DI Andy Selby and ask the question. Don't ignore it, don't think no one will ever know; don't leave yourself open to investigation and questions why you have failed to update vetting.

Whilst on PSD and investigations and following on from some of the presentations at the PFEW conference, the Chief Constable and I have had a lengthy debate about how BTP PSD are operating, how we believe PSD have been very pro-active in certain cases, and how we interpret police conduct regulations. It was a healthy debate of differing views and one I am sure will continue.

Our role and that of PSD are different there will be occasions where we challenge each other, have different thought process and differing views. Nonetheless I want to reassure all, when we challenge PSD or BTP we do it supported by evidence, in a professional and respectful fashion. We are not at war with PSD, we are not here as described by one officer to "stick it to them" we are not driving an "us and them" agenda. I know that may come as a shock to some, but in my view being in conflict with each other never achieves anything. We have a role to play, as do PSD, but we have to remain respectful, professional and ethical in our dealings with each other.

As described previously we support the Force's "trust your gut" approach and we invite officers and staff to call out and challenge others and to report wrongdoing. What this isn't, however in our opinion, is an invitation for officers to report every misdemeanor to PSD or to invite PSD to investigate every incident that occurs across the force area. We also appreciate the force are seeking a consistent approach by having PSD assessing all reports and complaints regarding officers and staff. Regardless we still believe Line managers have a role to play here. The conduct regulations are not the only regulations available. Officers need the support of their line mangers, who need to show strong leadership and address some of the reports of wrongdoing. Line managers should be preventing certain behaviours from escalating, they should be coaching, mentoring and setting examples. They can use their discretion to instigate unsatisfactory performance/attendance regulations and they certainly can instigate reflective practice. Conduct and performance are one and on occasions they both blend in together.

As Described by the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police Craig Guildford, at the PFEW conference; "We have to be optimistic about future misconduct proceedings. We have all worked extremely hard to push more of the learning and reflective practice. We have to be committed to fairness, timelines and learning" As A federation we agree with taking robust action against those who should not be Police Officers. However, the new regulations are clear in that only serious breaches of Standard of Professional Behaviour should be considered for gross misconduct proceedings.

Now I appreciate that we could all debate what is serious to one person maybe different to another, especially if you are a complainant or worse a victim. That said as police officers we all know what is criminal, so we should all appreciate what is and what isn't a serious allegation regarding police conduct. If an allegation relates to Honesty or Integrity, any allegation of racism, any sexual allegation or any form of Hate type crime then without hesitation these matters should be investigated due to the seriousness of the allegations. We all know this, and we wouldn't be suggesting anything differently. Nonetheless not every report or allegation against police conduct fits these descriptives.

Not every mistake or failing falls within conduct regulations, there is recognition in the new regulations that on occasions officers will act foolishly, will make stupid mistakes and will potentially have a bad day in the office. These events happen because of various reasons, exhaustion, stress and anxiety in work or at home, bereavement, poor work life balance, lack of exercise and many other reasons. Police officers are only human, and we don't always get it right. We need to see a fair balance and line managers, you have a role to play in addressing that balance, the responsibility does not always sit at the door of PSD. We invite you to be confident in calling it out, challenging colleagues and supervisors and reporting matters to your line mangers. However, before you jump into the world of PSD ask yourself is this criminal, is it a serious breach of professional standards or is it something as a line manager you can deal with? You won't get criticised for managing people and certain events. In my view to change the organisational culture we need to educate; we need to learn from our mistakes, officers and staff should have the confidence in addressing and challenging the actions of some without fear of repercussions and we need a fair and balanced process.

We will continue to engage honestly and constructively with the Force and PSD, while reflecting the views and worries of our members and I genuinely hope you, the members, will also support us in this task.

For your information next month, we are conducting two training courses where some of your newly elected Federation representatives will be trained in dealing with those higher-level misconduct matters. They will become Federation Friends for the purpose of misconduct, officers that can represent you should you find yourself engaged with PSD or the IOPC. Once those officers are qualified and have passed the course, we will publish their names so you are aware who on your area you can use for such matters.

Medals

Finally, you should all be receiving your Jubilee Medals this month; I know the Force and the Chief have worked extremely hard in getting the medals distributed ensuring we all have possession of them by the time the Jubilee weekend commences.

I appreciate some may not see the benefits or the reason for these medals but being an old fashioned romantic these medals, like any other, are something you should all be very proud of. You receive them because you are or have been a public servant to the Queen, the Country and your community and that is something we can all be very proud of. Please wear them with pride and don't be afraid to showcase your medal to your family and friends; I am more than confident that they will be proud of you.

Again, as always thank you for reading this month's blog, if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us or

Quote of the Month:
"If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are."

John W. Gardner


Nigel Goodband
National Chair