Chairman's Blog for Mar

Colleagues, welcome to the Chairs blog for March 2023. I hope that you are all safe and well and have enjoyed a mixture of work and downtime. It's been another busy month with the Federation and here are some updates for you all.


Since my last blog you will all have seen that our colleagues in PFEW have requested a pay rise of 17.5%. As you will be aware we have pay parity with PFEW and have done since 1964.

Unfortunately, PFEW have decided not to have a seat at the table with PRRB to discuss pay issues with them. In many senses I support the reasoning behind this and the view that PRRB is not an independent body who can, in all good faith, award us what we deserve, and our Federation stand beside them in agreement with that. I do believe however, that it's important to negotiate where we can, and that until PRRB becomes independent then we need to be able to have constructive discussions within the options available to us.

As in previous years, this will no doubt be a lengthy process and it is important that we fight for our true worth, particularly when we see other streams of public sector employment securing percentages they deemed suitable to them.

How many careers out there have to deal with what our officers do? On a daily basis we are dealing with severe trauma, we are kicked, punched, abused, videoed and regularly take on the sort of social and medical roles that seem to have become part of our daily duties. There are no two ways about it - we simply must be paid our worth.

I have already written to the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Huw Merriman MP, encouraging dialogue and support for a pay rise that shows true value and reflection for what we do, and which takes into account the rise in inflation.

I'd like each of you to help support this process by also writing to your local MP's. Let's explain why we feel so strongly about pay and seek as much support as we can. To help with this we have a page on the website from where you can download a template letter/email. You'll see there is space within the letter to make it personal to you; this is important. There's also a link to check who your local MP is and what email address they use.

As we continue through our battle to be paid appropriately, I shall strive to keep you all updated.


This month has seen the latest National Negotiating Meeting (NNM) take place. This is an opportunity for the Federation to raise matters with the Force that have come to our attention and try to seek resolution. These are things that matter to our members and matter to us, and NNM is an important platform for us.

Matters that were discussed include allowances for the South East and Scotland where we are seeking parity for their respective areas. It's an ongoing discussion and I hope to have some fruitful developments in the near future. It's encouraging and welcoming that the Force is keen to have these discussions and recognise the need for fairness.

Another matter that the Federation raised was around London allowance not being paid to officers whilst on maternity leave. A recent court ruling has decreed that this should have been paid. This judgement was made in 2021 and brings with it a statutory time limit of six years. We note with interest that both City of London Police and Metropolitan Police are back dating claims to 2015. Regrettably at this time our force is refusing to do so and are only prepared to backdate this to 2021.

As a Federation we cannot accept this and have formally informed the Force that in line with our Machinery of Negotiation we wish to implement our right to take this to a dispute resolution procedure - effectively a 'failure to agree' - where the next step is to present our case to the British Transport Police Authority.

Substance Misuse Policy

The Substance misuse policy is an example of an item that has resulted in a failure to agree. This falls into two categories. One which allows the Force to carry out drug and alcohol testing 'with cause' which is where they have intelligence to carry testing out and we must participate. The other is 'random' where you are randomly picked and should be requested to conduct a drugs and alcohol test. Of course, you are free to do so, however it's been drawn to our attention that if officers refuse to take part in a random test they are being threatened with discipline.

This is unacceptable and something we strongly disagree with. Officers should not be threatened with sanctions for refusing what is a random test. We don't have an objection to 'with cause' and in no circumstances do we want to be put at risk by a colleague under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It would put not only themselves in danger, but also the public and their own colleagues, so if there is genuine intelligence, we accept this. We can't though, agree to being disciplined for not taking part in a voluntary process.

We had raised this with the Force and neither side could agree, so at the end of 2022 we had our initial 'Failure to Agree' meeting with the BTPA where we set our case out. We are expecting to meet with the Authority in the upcoming weeks to establish the outcome of this, before exploring any next steps. I will of course keep you updated in future blogs.

Layers & Spans

The consultation has finished, and the proposals are at the implementation stage. As you will be aware, the Federation didn't believe that as a 'business' we were at a mature enough stage to conduct any Layers and Spans movement. We requested that all proposals were put on pause to give everyone a chance to reflect on the process and to carry out further due diligence. Unfortunately, the Force didn't agree with our view and provided us with the rationale as to why it must progress.

It is testament to our members that a considerable number of counter proposals were suggested and considered. Some were taken on board and implemented and due to this it appears at this stage that the L&S review will directly impact five substantive Inspector posts. We are acutely aware and have already highlighted the concern that there are far greater indirect numbers impacted and the Force must be cognisant of this. Matters such as increased workload, fewer career progression opportunities and increased difficulties with taking Annual Leave are just some of our concerns that must be considered.

We are in continual dialogue with the L&S team and welcome the fact they are keen to consider our concerns as we progress to the next steps.

12 Hour Nights

It was really disappointing to hear that some areas within the Force were rostering officers onto 12-hour night shifts. We have been informed that this has been done without offering affected officers the opportunity to volunteer to carry out the extended shift and with no option to decline. It was clear to us that this is a breach of the Working Time Agreement currently in place and as such we discussed this as a matter of urgency with FRPU. It was pleasing to hear FRPU acknowledge this issue and offer assurances that this won't happen again.

The Federation stance on this is clear and we don't support 12-hour night shifts. If any of our members have been impacted by this or are impacted by this in the future, then please make your local Federation representatives aware.

Federation Vacancies

If you are a PC in the Wales and Western and London South areas, you may be interested know about the vacancies that have arisen for Federation Representatives. It's a fantastic opportunity to volunteer your services and look to help make a real difference for our members. You'll have the chance to receive training in several areas, including conduct, welfare, health and safety and neurodiversity awareness. If you are a PC in either area, then please email info@btpfed.co.uk for further information.

Rail Industry Memorial Day

I had the pleasure of attending the first Rail Industry Memorial Day held at the National Railway Museum, York. A service that took place three years to the day of our first lockdown was, as you'd expect, full of emotion as we reflected and remembered those in the rail industry who turned up to work daily through the pandemic, putting thoughts of their own safety to one side.

As you would imagine, BTP was very well represented within the room, and it was great to chat to our officers, staff, and Special Constables about how Covid had impacted them. You could hear a pin drop when Annie Coker, widow of our own John Coker, described the devastating impact Covid had on her and her family.

It serves as a reminder (not that we need one) of just how important all of you are and the sacrifices that each of you have made for our organisation. All involved with British Transport Police Federation greatly appreciate all that you do, and you have my assurance that we will do all we can to best represent you.

I'm going to end this month's edition by saying I hope that this blog has been of use to you, if you have any issues, concerns, or things that you would like to raise to the Federation then please do contact your local reps and highlight any issues to them.

Until the next time

All the best