Chairman's Blog for January

Colleagues, here is the Federation blog for January 2022. May I start by wishing you and your families all the very best for 2022. I will take this opportunity to congratulate DI Andy Winters on being awarded the Queens Police Medal in the New Year Honours; I'm sure he is proud as punch. This is a well-deserved award for an officer who loves being a BTP officer and simply gets on with doing the job. In September of last year, we awarded Andy a Federation Lifetime Achievement award. If you've not seen the video, you can watch it here.


With another year ahead of us I suspect many of us are wondering what 2022 will bring. Firstly, as you may already know, this month sees the start of the consultation to bring about a roster change, a change that many have been asking for, which is 6 days on 4 days off. As always, we expect some noise from this proposal as rosters are very subjective and emotive. What is acceptable and enjoyed by some is not always acceptable to others. Nonetheless, this is the first time for a long time that we have seen the Force move towards a working roster that is being requested by officers rather than by management.

While the Chief is exploring this on welfare, work life balance grounds, do not for one moment think it's going to be simple. The Force still needs resources, resilience, performance and visibility, so for any new roster to work, officers have to play their part and to be honest in any feedback. Don't sit in silence if it's not working, but also don't be obstructive simply because it doesn't suit you personally. Talk it through and look at the pros and cons, because together I believe this is the roster that can work for the majority and deliver a better work life balance, whilst also providing the required levels of visibility and resilience. The Federation is taking part in this consultation. By way of example, we (the Federation Executive) recently met with Temp C/Supt Glen Alderson regarding the consultation for C and D Divisions and on a local level Cath Daley and Stuart Cowan are part of the discussions.

Sadly, this roster proposal won't bring a halt to rest day cancellations; that is simply never going to happen and anyone suggesting such is not facing reality. I've been in policing for over 31 years, and I can't ever remember seeing a roster that resulted in no rest day cancellations. This year is going to be an extremely busy year with the Commonwealth Games, the Women's Euros and the World Cup to name but a few major events. Without doubt there will be some cancellations, but hopefully planning will improve resulting in fewer cancellations and greater work life balance.

Annual leave

Whilst on the subject of work life balance, I must remind you that this is the last year that you can carry over any COVID-related annual - a maximum of 20 days from 2021 into 2022. Once we come to the end of 2022 you will be unable to carry over annual leave unless in exceptional circumstances, in which case the maximum amount is 5 days. If you've got outstanding leave, please take it this year. Don't leave it until the last minute and remember the new Force policy is that if you are leaving BTP you must use up all your leave, unless there are exceptional circumstances that have prevented you from taking that leave. So, get it booked now if you haven't already done so. Regular time off is important.

The Force Resource Planning Unit (FRPU) is now available seven days a week from 7am to 7pm. The new opening hours will provide extended cover to enable the team to manage workloads more consistently, whilst being more responsive to frontline operational and planning needs. Hopefully some of the concerns that you experience with e-leave, rosters, TOIL and Rest Days will now be addressed much quicker, with consistency across the Force, and to your satisfaction. Again, a positive from the Force who are clearly listening to the issues that you have raised through meetings with the Chief, the staff survey or other feedback opportunities.

Meeting with the new Deputy Chief Constable

This month I had my first opportunity of meeting Alistair Sutherland face to face. Mr Sutherland has joined us from the City of London Police and has also served in the Metropolitan Police. Mr Sutherland didn't hesitate to put me at ease, and he welcomed a full and frank discussion on the views and thoughts of the Federation and its members. We talked about numerous issues, from what to expect this year with pay, to our views on misconduct regulations, the Job Related Fitness Test, new technology in policing, single patrol strategy, welfare and recruitment. The discussions were certainly open and frank, honest and reassuring. This being the first of many meetings, no decisions were made or promised, but it was a productive and positive conversation.

BTP Authority Meeting

We have also had our first meeting of this year with Mr Hugh Ind, the CEO of the BTP Authority, during which we discussed the future plans for the Government GBR project and the plans for the future of BTP.

We also discussed pay for 2021 and what that may look like. We are aware that the NPCC has submitted a paper suggesting an 8% increase over three years. Clearly this proposal will be the NPCC 's submission this year to the PRRB, who in turn will report to the Home Office and the Treasury. Now I don't often make comment about pay, especially when many in society are struggling financially, nonetheless I am saddened by some recent news stories and some of the comments we received via our Financial Resilience Survey.

Policing and police officers cannot and should not sustain another low pay increase; we have suffered enough over the last 12 years. I appreciate sympathy for policing is low and public perception is damaged, but it can't be right that any government allows police officers to be paid so little that they are having to rely on food banks, with some working second jobs just to get by and pay the bills.

Some cynics are suggesting the pay rise this year will yet again be minimal and I have to say if that is the case then it is nothing short of scandalous and represents irresponsible leadership. Anything short of 3.5% to 5% will be a humiliation. This government must seriously consider a fair and reasonable pay increase throughout the public sector, especially in policing. Those who protect society, those who put themselves at risk day after day, night after night, should be treated with respect and not like second rate citizens, standing in queues with begging bowls feeling scared to ask for fair pay and fair conditions of service.

It feels as though this government is taking full advantage of our lack of industrial rights. Refusing a sensible pay increase in the face of rising inflation and the increased cost of living, the impact of the pay freeze and more than a decade of austerity is likely to reignite the debate as to whether police officers should have industrial rights. We wait to see what the PRRB decides and what the Home Office agrees to.

Compendium published

On a more positive note, I am pleased to report that the Police Officer Compendium has now been published by the Force. If you're on a job device, you can read it here. This is not a new contract of employment, so you don't have to sign anything, and it is not a replica of all Police Regulations. It is simply a guide for every single person in BTP to use when asking, enquiring, challenging or simply wanting to check terms and conditions whilst employed in BTP.

If you see anything that doesn't match the documentation provided as part of the compendium, you can fairly assume it is incorrect. From now, any changes to the compendium or related policies must go through the Machinery of Negotiation. BTP cannot ignore this process, nor can they change your conditions of service without full negotiation with the staff associations, and those discussions must be recorded and agreed. Unless the Secretary of State steps in that is.

This is a first for BTP since the disappearance of green minutes, which many of you won't remember. For the first time in recent history we have one central document that tells you, your peers, your supervisors, HR and so on what your terms and conditions are. You don't have to continually search police regulations, the BTP intranet, or read policy after policy to find what you are looking for. This document creates an easy reference with links to the relevance documentation that should provide you with the detail you require.

It has taken more than five years to get to this point and we have all worked extremely hard to reach agreement. We are grateful for the effort that has gone in to debating, drafting, debating further, producing, negotiating this piece of work. A big thank you to everyone involved; we got there in the end, and we hope it will be of great assistance.

Information Technology

This month I also visited the Technology Service Desk at FHQ. T/Chief Inspector Ian Brennan has taken over as Interim Head of IT Service Management and he is leading on a number of workstreams to improve services to you.

Ian explained that the IT Service Management Teams are suffering with abstractions and vacancies, although recruitment into key roles is underway and he asks that we all be patient with his team who are handling around 3000 service tickets each month. Ian further explained the most efficient way to resolve a technology issue is to raise a ticket through The Hub where Technology need you to include as much detail as possible, such as what the issue is, what fixes you have tried, who it is affecting, is it a multi-user or wider location issue and most importantly full contact details for follow-up.

You can follow the progress of your tickets and communicate with the respective teams through The Hub. I am proof the service works as Special T/Sgt Steve Lubbe, who works in the Mobile Device Team, managed to fix my mobile phone!

National Association of Retired BTP Officers

The General Secretary and I recently had the privilege of attending the NARBTPO retired officers' dinner in Liverpool. Due to COVID, it has been a while since our retired colleagues have been able to meet up, talk about the good old days and listen to talks about modern day policing. "Oh, when I was a cop" was a common thread with many. It was really nice to be invited to this event and to see a few old faces and colleagues that I know and have worked with over the years. A big thank you to ex-Police Inspector Frank Loftus for inviting us and making us feel so welcome.

Why I mention this event is because I was also given the opportunity to say farewell to Mr Graham Fair who retired this month after serving 52 years in BTP. I have known Graham for many years; he was an inspector at Liverpool BTP when I was a young officer who thought I knew best. He wasn't afraid of putting you on the straight and narrow.

Graham joined BTP as a cadet in April 1969, when I was four years old. He worked mainly in Scotland and C Division where he rose to the rank of Police Inspector. Graham was a well-respected national Police Search Advisor, and in his time, he led on many major incidents and enquiries. The thing I remember most about Graham is that he always had one eye on the wellbeing of his officers. He always ensured you were fed and watered, rested and equipped, and when the job needed doing it got done with little fuss, no complaints and with an element of pride. Once he retired as a police officer, Graham returned as Police Staff and then became heavily involved in being a TSSA union rep. This is where the Federation and Graham worked more closely, especially in Scotland with regards to the proposed integration of BTP into Police Scotland.

It was my honour to present Graham with a small gift and thank him for his time served in BTP, for his support of the Federation and for his sound counsel when dealing with various matters relating to BTP. We all wish Graham and his lovely family all the very best for the future and hope he enjoys and long and relaxing retirement.

Special's Awards

Another event we were pleased to attend was the BTP Special Constabulary Awards and Recognition Evening at Islington Town Hall. Last year, BTP's Specials gave more than 100,000 hours of their time, supporting regular officers and providing a valuable service to the travelling public. Thank you to everyone who volunteers with BTP. Congratulations to Special Sergeant Shawny Dixon who was named Special of the Year.

Federation Review

On to internal Federation business and I am pleased to report that the independent review of this Federation is underway. The panel has been formed and we are already receiving some interesting questions. The panel will conduct a brief staff survey and we urge you to take part. By way of encouragement, you will have the option of entering into a prize draw. The top prize is £300 of vouchers, with a further two respondents winning £150 and £50 vouchers respectively. So please keep your eyes peeled for the Federation staff survey, complete it, and enter yourself into the prize draw.

Federation Elections

Finally, the national BTP Federation election process for new federation representatives is well underway and all nominations received have been entered. If you have put yourself forward, thank you. You have done so knowing you are volunteering to take on more work supporting your colleagues.

The actual elections get underway in February and as a Federation member, you will get to vote for your choice of rep from those nominated. Remember, you are voting for your area representatives; these are the officers who will support you if ever you need the Federation. These are the reps who will support you when you are possibly at your lowest, when you are under investigation, when you are poorly or seriously ill. These are the reps who will coming knocking on my door telling me how you feel and what you expect from the Federation, so please think carefully about your vote and don't hesitate to contact the General Secretary, Mark Marshallsay (info@btpfed.co.uk) with any concerns or questions.

Ballot papers will be issued on 4/5 February. I wish all nominees the best of luck and look forward to working with you. The results will be announced on 5 March 2022 and your new reps will take up office immediately.

Quote of the Month:
"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value"