Chairman's Blog for Oct


Colleagues, welcome to the blog for October. I hope you are all as well as you can be in these difficult times.

No doubt some of you will have been watching the developments in Government with interest. With the arrival of another new Prime Minister comes a cabinet reshuffle and a new Transport Minister. The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP has been appointed Secretary of State for Transport. I will be writing to introduce myself and the Federation and will take the opportunity to brief him on some of the challenges you are facing.

Below are some of the issues and points of note that have come to the Federation's attention since my first blog.

Control Room

As most of you reading this will no doubt be aware, the control room is facing significant staffing issues with massive shortfalls in both London and Birmingham. A short-term measure has been proposed that will see our officers seconded to the control rooms for a six-month period.

The stance of the Federation has to be very clear. We are sympathetic to the issues facing the control room and understand that these issues also have an impact on our officers, but we cannot support removal of our frontline officers from their duties to supplement the control rooms. It really does feel like robbing Peter to pay Paul and any time we remove frontline officers can only have a negative impact in policing.

I'm keen to work with the Force on this and have had some positive initial discussions with them. I was reassured that nobody would be forced into the role and that they will seek volunteers. If you have been impacted by this and have concerns, please make your local Federation Reps aware.

National Negotiating Meeting

The Federation Executive attended the National Negotiating Meeting (NNM) last week where amongst other things, we raised the issue of the Southeast Allowance and how in our view it is unfair that posts covering the same area receive different allowances to whichever Home Office force they may fall under.

It doesn't seem a fair method and can quite easily lead to disharmony amongst those impacted. It can't be right that two sets of officers police the same area but receive different allowances. Although nothing could be agreed at this NNM it was encouraging that the Force was sympathetic to the issue and is happy to work together to put a business case forward to the British Transport Police Authority. This is an important issue and sitting alongside D Division parity/allowances I'm keen to encourage as much open dialogue with the Force and Authority as possible.

Let's be clear, as the cost of living reaches unprecedented levels it's never been more important to give our people as much support as possible. This isn't about having extra luxuries. This is about heating homes and putting food on the table - basic living needs.

Events Planning

One of the things that I am keen to do as we move forward is ensure that the Federation and Events Planning work closer together. It seems such a simple fix but basic communications at an early stage can go a long way to ensuring that our officers are being afforded their entitlements and allow us to do what we can to ensure things that really matter to us, like cancelled rest days, are kept to a minimum. This was raised at our annual conference and prompted a positive discussion with Chief Constable D'Orsi. Since then, I have had a productive meeting with CI Carroll within the Events Planning team and it was pleasing that he welcomes stronger communication to ensure any disruption to our officers is kept to an absolute minimum.

Independent Review

I had mentioned in my previous blog the independent review we commissioned into the Federation. We are keen to ensure that we are reflective of the members that we represent, and the review is an important part of that and can help shape our future.

I wanted to share with you that we have already implemented some of the recommendations from the review team, such as Mental Health Training for our reps. We were fortunate enough to secure the services of Rachel Luby, who was awarded Mental Health Nurse of the Year in 2019. Rachel has used her extensive experience to educate our reps in varying aspects of mental health but particularly the aspects relevant to what you face on the railway. Furthermore, she has volunteered her own time to do this. This is important training as we sadly have more and more of our members coming to us for advice on mental health issues as they feel that they have nowhere else to turn.

I will also extend thanks to Karen Wiesenekker, BTP's Head of Strategic Inclusion and Diversity, who has organised diversity and inclusion workshops for us. The first took place this month with another due in November. We want everyone we represent to feel supported, regardless of who they are and what role they do. Sessions like this help us to consider and understand the very different experiences our members can and do have at work.

Reps meeting

This month, a rep from each area joined me for a meeting to talk about issues of concern from their divisions. I was specific that I wanted to hear from those reps who I don't see so often (those who aren't part of the Management Board) and was grateful to everyone who took part. For me, this is about understanding what matters are being dealt with effectively on area and what issues are affecting members across the force, so need to be addressed centrally.

Some of the common concerns were around vehicles, gaps in teams, control room staffing, and the length of time PSD takes to deal with some investigations. We're already in talks with the Force about several of these matters and a couple were discussed with the Chief Constable and Authority at our conference, so, work in progress.

Feedback from the session was good so I will repeat it. As well as identifying the issues that are common across the force as well as those more specific to certain areas and roles, it also gave reps a chance to meet one another and work together on possible solutions.

Getting out and about

Moving forward something that I'm eager to do is to get out and about when I can and be visible, meeting as many members as I can. Whether that's at meetings, working a shift or an event, when it permits, I'd like to do so. I'm looking forward to visiting some of the south coast offices in a few weeks' time. Along with some members of the local committee I'm going to be in Portsmouth on the morning of 16 November, Bournemouth in the afternoon of that day and I'll be in Southampton on the morning of 17 November. If you work in or around that area and would like a chat about anything, then please do come along. The local committee will advise you of exact timings.


Various items of interest have been added to the conference section of the website so please take a look and catch up with what was discussed by your Federation Representatives. Videos from our speakers and the Q&A session are being added this week. If you don't have time to watch the videos in full, we have also produced transcripts of the sessions so you can quickly read up on the areas that are important to you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this month's update and please do stay safe.
Until the next time.
All the best,

Did You Know?

For just £1 per week, you can be part of the Federation Lottery. Half the income is distributed in prizes while the other half goes to good causes. As a lottery player, you can apply for a donation on behalf of a charity, community group or good cause, or seek a grant for a sporting or cultural activity. We recently gave PC Jenny Atherton a lottery grant. Read how she used it here.