Chairman's Blog for Nov


Colleagues - welcome to this month's blog. I hope that this finds you all safe and well throughout the daily challenges that we face.

With Respect

It is only right and proper that I start by paying respect to our colleagues, Steve Berry and Mark Stokes. It was with a heavy heart that we were made aware of the sad news of their passing. The outpouring of love and affection towards them shows how highly regarded and respected they were. The thoughts with everyone involved in the Federation remain with Steve's and Mark's families, friends and colleagues.

Station Visits

I was fortunate this month to visit our offices in Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton. It was great to speak to our officers there and hear their views and thoughts about what they feel is currently positive and negative with both the Force and the Federation. Generally, the massive upgrade in IT was deemed as a positive; it's something our officers have found helpful and has really made a difference.

As always there are things that we must improve, and we need pay attention to what impacts on our officers. Things that we need to continue to progress include vehicles, both in terms of the number of vehicles that we have at posts and the timeframe for faults within vehicles being fixed. It's crucial that any turnaround for vehicles being repaired is as short as possible.

The Force must continue to invest and ensure that our estates are as well-equipped as possible. It was really disappointing to discover that our Bournemouth office has been somewhat neglected with issues ranging from male and female officers having to share changing facilities, to using cardboard to cover windows in the changing room door when changing, to hygiene issues with a toilet leaking which spills into other areas. This shouldn't happen. My view is that this wouldn't happen in any of our divisional headquarters throughout the Force so shouldn't happen anywhere else.

Lone working was also highlighted as an issue. I'll never be convinced that lone working is anything other than a negative. Amongst many other reasons it leaves our officers feeling isolated and alone. This can only have a detrimental impact on our mental health. It's particularly concerning at district posts where often our nearest colleagues can be an hour away. I'd urge supervision to ensure we are mindful of our officers feeling detached in this way.

Social Media and 'Selfiegate'

We often see adverse articles within the press and on social media about our Force, or those within our Force. We are proud to be part of BTP and this can often lead to a natural instinct of us posting comments online. Social media can be a powerful tool, but we must be mindful to not identify ourselves in a manner that exposes us to online trolling or compromises our safety. It's not uncommon for comments posted on social media to result in conversations with PSD and we need to ensure we do all we can to avoid this.

In what was clearly a slow news day, various media outlets recently ran a story about a 'senior' BTP official expressing their dissatisfaction at our officers taking a 'selfie' with a celebrity. It then caused tv and radio shows to discuss the rights and wrongs of doing such thing.

What utter nonsense.

Policing is often criticised for not having an attachment to the public, however on occasions like this when we show that we are human we get criticised. Of course, nothing is said when cops stop and take photos when requested by parents of small children, stag/hen groups or others.

It was really welcoming to read the Chief's response to this and show support for the officers actually being human and approachable.


Most of you will now be aware of new legislative changes relating to police drivers that come into effect from 30th November of this year under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. This law applies in Scotland, England and Wales and gives recognition to the driving and tactics undertaken by response drivers. This will also bring greater scrutiny.

Training must be delivered by accredited and licensed police driving instructors. There is not only an obligation by the Force to ensure that our trained drivers are 'in ticket' but also as you as the officer. The recommendation from the Federation is that under no circumstances should you drive on response if you do not have the correct recognised national training. Even if you receive assurances from supervision, or the control room, please remember it's not they who can be prosecuted for driving offences and end up in court if something goes wrong.

Layers and Spans

The Force is currently undergoing a Layers and Spans review in order to ensure that the Force is as efficient as possible. Although things are currently at a consultancy stage, it is clear that this may impact many within the Force. It's important that the Force is cognisant of this, and we encourage them to communicate openly and transparently. It's vital to remember just how proud our officers are to be in this organisation and of the roles that they carry out and this has to be considered. There will be opportunities to dial in to meetings around this matter and I'd encourage you all to do so.

Home Secretary

It was interesting to note the comments from the Home Secretary about her decision to axe the requirement for all new recruits to study for a degree and ensuring that non-degree entry route into policing is kept open. It's something that BTP have always done but it's a timely reminder of the importance of recruiting people with all sorts of skills and experience into policing. In today's society of everyone seemingly communicating via text I must admit one of my favourite skillsets is the ability to talk to people - perhaps I'm showing my age!

Free Rail Travel

I don't think that there will be anyone reading this blog who isn't astounded by the fact that our officers don't receive free rail travel when off duty. This is particularly galling when you consider that this is a luxury afforded to other forces. This doesn't feel fair and it's even more important to have this facility when you consider the current financial climate we all find ourselves in. I know that it's something that the Force is working on, however I have taken the opportunity recently to write to the newly appointed Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP and within the letter I have requested that he supports us in obtaining free off duty rail travel. I shall keep you updated of progress as and when I get it.

Awards of Excellence

Nominations for 2023 BTP Federation Awards of Excellence are now open. This is a great opportunity to showcase the outstanding work carried out by officers and Specials across the Force. These awards are special as everyone who receives one has been nominated by you, our members.

If you know of anyone who you feel merits such recognition then please consider nominating them. We're also looking for nominations for our Lifetime Achievement Award. More information and the nomination forms are available here.

That's all for this month. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you found it useful.

Until the next time,
All the best

Did you know?

The Group Insurance Scheme provides benefits including: