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Stuart Cowan
Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation

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

British Transport
Police Federation
August 2023

Chairman's Blog


Colleagues,

Welcome to the latest Federation Blog. I hope that you are all as well as can be in what has been a busy period since my last blog. There is quite a bit to comment on which I hope you find useful.

Pay and Allowances

As most, if not all of you will be aware, the recent pay submissions have seen police awarded a 7% pay rise. This is clearly not what we wanted, nor is it what we deserve, but if we are realistic, it's more than we expected. That doesn't make it right though, particularly when we consider real term pay cuts to police in line with inflation which amount to 17%. This isn't a figure plucked from thin air; legitimate, independent bodies have evidenced this number.

We have also seen the recent announcement from the Met and City of London Police that they are awarding their officers a payment of £1000 (£2000 for probationary officers). This small token goes some way to assisting those in their forces with the financial hardships they may be facing. As a Federation we feel that it is vital that we replicate the decision made by the Met and City and, along with the PSA, we have requested that the Force follows suit. We also requested we provide parity to our colleagues in D Division, recognising the differences in pay compared with Police Scotland.

It's disappointing that the Force doesn't agree with our point of view around pay and allowances and won't support our requests at this time. However, it was welcoming that the door has been left open for us to approach the Force with an evidence-based assessment on why we believe that it's right and proper for our colleagues to receive this extra payment.

At our latest NNM (described below) we formally placed on record our request for extra allowance which the force dispute. As such we have triggered the 'Failure to Agree' process. The Federation and PSA are committed to achieving the best for our officers and as such have written to the Force to advise them that we are creating a working group around pay and allowances and to help ensure transparency we have invited them to be part of this group. We would welcome their involvement.

Joint Central Committee (JCC) & National Negotiating Meeting (NNM)

The latest JCC took place on Monday 21st August. Every three months the Federation, Supers Association and TSSA meet with the Chief Constable and other members of the leadership team to discuss what we all see as important topics. Some of these items include Performance, the above-mentioned Pay and Allowances, Vetting and Right Care Right Person.

Friday 25th August saw the latest NNM take place. As mentioned in previous blogs this is part of the formal process in which we raise concerns with the Force that we aim to resolve. Failure to resolve matters leads to what is called a 'Failure to Agree' as per the previous pay and allowances update. This matter is now escalated to the BTPA where both parties will put their case forward. We will of course update you accordingly as and when we can.

Other updates from NNM include: in-house Occupational Health provision starting in October (which is especially pleasing to hear); south-east allowance parity for Bournemouth officers coming in to play from next month (September); and ongoing work on the issue of free or discounted rail travel. We will provide you with more information on these topics as we receive them, but there are some positives here.

PSD/Federation Meeting

The second meeting between DCC Sutherland, Head of PSD, Det Supt Fulton and several Fed Reps recently took place in Birmingham. This meeting gives all parties an opportunity to discuss any emerging issues, matters that come to the attention of PSD and what we can all do to try and address these issues. These meetings have real value and what's clear is that we can all do more to address the issues that we have.

It was encouraging that after this meeting, PSD reached out to one of our reps, Gordon Wason, to seek his help in how to improve what are known as 'Ethical Interviews'. These interviews were raised by several reps as causing great concern to members, who had little idea what to expect from them.

Matters that we must all be aware of at the moment include social media and what we post on our socials. I plead with all of you, please do not put anything on social media that may mean that you compromise yourself and risk a PSD investigation. Think twice before posting and if you're tagging or messaging someone, double-check you have the right account.

The next meeting will be at the end of November and if there are issues that you'd like placed on the agenda or discussed then please make your local reps aware.

Meeting with Rail Minister

Looking forward to the next few weeks and I am pleased to advise that I have received an invitation from the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP. As well as introducing ourselves to each other, the meeting will allow me to raise some concerns that we have, express our vision moving forward and how we can look to work collaboratively to improve conditions for our Federation members and the travelling public.

It's great to have this opportunity and I look forward to updating you all on how it goes.

Open University PhD

You may recall that I have mentioned in a previous blog about an important piece of work the Federation is undertaking around a BTPF PhD Studentship through the Open University. This will produce a body of work relating to 'Stress and Decision Making: The Link between Trauma, Culture and Misconduct in Policing.

Those who know me know that I'm passionate about ensuring our police officers are cared for and have adequate provisions and protection in place. I'm really excited about this piece of work and I'm grateful to the excellent Dr. Sarah-Jane Lennie who shares our passion and who has a crucial in helping us with this.

The application stage is now closed, and we are very fortunate that we have some fantastic applicants. The next stage is to choose the preferred candidate and build a framework. This piece of work may make for uncomfortable reading for some, but I am hopeful it will help to make legitimate changes in policing.

The Blue Light Hike

If you've been following our social media pages recently, you'll have no doubt seen that I've recently taken part in a mammoth charity event. Along with Civil Nuclear Police Federation Chief Executive, Gary Thwaite, I walked from CNPF headquarters in Cockermouth to BTPF headquarters in West Dulwich.

This was over 500km in just 14 days and involved walking through the Lake District, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales. With it came excruciating blisters, lost toenails and plenty struggles. A huge thank you to those who have reached out and sponsored us, walked with us and sent us well wishes. Each and every one of you played a massive part in this.

The reason we did this was to raise much needed funds and profile of PTSD999. This great not-for-profit organisation helps those in the emergency services suffering from mental health challenges. We must be clear, there is a mental health crisis not only in policing but across the UK. We must do more to help those less fortunate. We cannot play lip service to this, and we need to make change. Our people matter and this Federation is committed to doing all we can to help with this.

The walk may have finished, but the quest to make changes to mental health support is only just starting. There is also still time to boost the total we have raised, if you're in a position to do so.

Notting Hill Carnival

Having come from D Division, I've never had the opportunity to work at Notting Hill before. I've heard many stories from colleagues about what it is like - some enjoy working it and others don't. What is clear to me though is that it's a challenging event and one that stretches us.

We all know that it's another event that happens every year, so it shouldn't be a shock to the Force when it does come around. We must plan appropriately and make sure we assist those working it as best as we can. As a Federation we are always looking at ways that we can improve these events for our officers. One suggestion that I have made for next year is that we utilise the 'One BTP' ethos and request our highly trained Public Order trained officers from D Division to help police the event. Having spoken to a large majority of them I know that they'd be keen to assist their colleagues and help police the Carnival.

It's also important for me that the Federation has a presence at these events, speaking to our colleagues working there and ensuring there are no welfare concerns. Much like other recent major events I was at this year's NHC in a Federation capacity, speaking to several of you and getting a better understanding of the challenges that you face. It was a great experience for me and one that we hope to replicate annually.

I'd like to thank you all for your views, all of which are taken on board and a particular thanks to Federation reps John Paul O Kane and Chigz Patel for attending the Carnival with me and to Dean Percival who was the Federation SPOC during planning.

Conference

I'll end this lengthier than normal blog by advising you all next month brings the Federation annual conference which this year is held in Southampton. This is the one time of the year where all reps come together and can carry out Federation business. This includes debating motions and rule changes. This is where reps can present a request to motion for change within the Force which, if voted upon can be taken to the NNM. Previous successful motions resulted in the much-needed changes to meal allowances and expenses.

We are also fortunate to be able to hold a Q&A session with the Chief Constable and the Chair and Chief Executive of the BTPA where your local reps can raise any concerns that they may have. Of course, the highlight of our conference is undoubtedly our Awards of Excellence evening where we get to celebrate the tremendous work by many of you and we will look to showcase that on our social media pages during and after conference.

We know that so much great work from our colleagues goes on throughout the year, and if you are involved in something that you feel merits recognition or know of a job that does then please make your local reps aware.

Thanks to you all for taking the time to read this blog.

Until the next time.
All the best
Stu

Stuart Cowan
Chair, BTP Federation


Contact the Federation
Tel: 0208 761 8071
Email: info@btpfed.co.uk
Web: www.btpolfed.org.uk