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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
September 2023

Chairman's Blog


Colleagues,

A warm welcome to the Federation blog reflecting on September, another busy month for the Federation.

Firearms

You will all be aware of the recent reports in the media around Met officer MX121 who has recently been charged with the murder of Chris Kaba. This has sent waves through policing, with understandably raised concerns and anxiety from officers who face further challenges and concerns when going about their daily duties.

We can't comment on this case, but it's important for our officers to note that your Federation is putting support mechanisms in place to assist our officers with their concerns. We have already attended our Firearms hubs at Blundell St in London, Manchester and Birmingham to talk through issues and to try and understand the unique challenges our firearms officers face. It's only right that they are supported at this time. We welcome ACC O'Callaghan attending Blundell St to talk to our officers there; hopefully this helped to show that the Force also appreciates the difficult position that armed officers find themselves in.

Conference

This year's Federation conference took place earlier in September at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. It was a great opportunity for our reps to come together to share working practices and offer support and guidance to one another. It also provided an opportunity to hold a Q&A session with the Chief Constable and the BTP Authority. It's a welcome opportunity for your reps to pose questions to the Chief and the authority on your behalf.

Conference provides me with a platform to address conference with my annual speech. Items on this years' agenda included concerns over the new misconduct process and what appears to be the removal of independence from proceedings. We also discussed the need for free rail travel, the challenges around police pay and our inability to submit to the so called 'independent' PRRB. Further items included how an improved benefits package for those within BTP is now a necessity and our desire for what should be a truly independent and transparent vetting process.

Conference generates a lot of content that we hope will be of interest to you. We recorded each of the sessions (including the Q&A0 and these videos are being prepared for our website, along with a copy of my speech (and others from, for example, the health and safety and welfare committees) along with a write-up of the day. We will notify you when the full collection of material is available.

Thin Blue Line Patch

Another issue that has been simmering away in policing circles is that of the Blue Line Patch and whether Chief Constables are supportive of officers wearing them.

We welcome our Chief Constable's stance; she has made an exemption to our uniform policy and is supportive of officers wearing the official blue line patches that not only allow officers to show their respect for fallen colleagues but raise funds for such an important charity.

It's worth being aware that this policy exemption is for official blue line patches only and does not cover alternate blue line patches that haven't been purchased from the official source.

National Police Memorial

To continue with the theme of paying respect to fallen colleagues it was a real privilege to attend the 20th annual National Police Memorial (NPM) day service held recently in Cardiff.

Both myself and your General Secretary, Mark Marshallsay, were humbled to be at this event which was as emotional as you'd expect. Days like the NPM are so important in the calendar, allowing us to show how much we appreciate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice carrying out a role they loved.

To spend time in the company of those who have lost loved ones really does serve as a reminder of the bond that can transcend through policing. It may be someone that we have never met before, but they are so much more than just a number.

We salute them. We thank them. We will remember them.

Station Visits

Whilst in Cardiff I took the opportunity to carry out visits to our local office, where I got to spend time listening to our members about issues and concerns that they have. These meetings are hugely important to me in my role as Federation chair and ensures that I stay connected with the frontline. They allow the Federation Executive, and you our members, a chance to shape the Federation as we move forward.

I'd like to pay thanks to Supt Andy Morgan for facilitating this and give particular thanks to Sgt Ashley Wilkins and his team who took time out to speak to us and give us their view on what's working, and perhaps, could be better within Force.

It's my aim to carry out as many visits as possible, and in the coming weeks I'll be attending places such as Truro, Exeter and Inverness to speak to our members there. Please contact your local rep if you'd particularly like to have the Federation Executive attend your offices and we can look to facilitate. If a Teams meeting makes it easier to get your colleagues together to speak with us, we can arrange that too.

Op Hampshire

I'm going to finish this month's blog by discussing some great work by Federation rep Tom Jepson around Op Hampshire and how both the Force, and Federation, can look to improve in this area.

Tom recently met with an officer who was the victim of a brutal assault but was failed by the court system. Tom's passion and endeavours to ensure these types of incidents are eradicated has led to some pro-active meetings with DCC Sutherland, during which suggestions that could help us to really look after our officers were considered. Further meetings will take place in the near future with the force lead for Op Hampshire, Supt Lorna McEwan.

It's encouraging to see senior leadership within the Force and Federation reps working together to help our workforce. It's simply unacceptable that officers are assaulted on a daily basis and are failed by the system that us, and the public are meant to put our faith into. Nobody should come to work and be punched, kicked or spat at. If we are in the unfortunate position of this happening then those guilty of carrying out these attacks must, without exception, be dealt with robustly.

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