Chair's Blog for February


Colleagues, welcome to your Federation blog for February. I hope that you are all as well as possible. It has been another busy month within the BTP so I will crack on with the updates.

ACC Karen Findlay

I’d like to take this time to formally welcome Karen Findlay and congratulate her on her successful appointment as our new ACC. Karen brings with her, from the Met, a wealth of experience and knowledge and I’m sure she will a real asset to the BTP.

Unfortunately, as often seems to be the way in modern society, people feel the need to try and rain on someone’s parade. Hiding behind social media aliases, these people chose to make sexist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments on a post about Karen’s appointment. Our Chief responded, in no uncertain terms, and has our full support. There is no place for this within society, let alone in policing and it’s important that we stand as one.

How ironic, that if the people making these comments required police to attend their homes in an emergency, they’d want someone with Karen’s skills, experience, and reputation to be first on their doorstep.

Congratulations, Karen. We look forward to working with you.

BTP's Fitness Test decision

Something else that has prompted commentary over the last couple of days is a news story about BTP’s decision, in August 2022, to remove the Job-Related Fitness Test (JRFT) as a pre-requisite for existing officers and PCSOs. For clarity, the test remains mandatory for all new recruits and those in specialist roles, such as firearm officers, Taser-trained and public order officers.

We know this is a subject that divides opinion, but we wanted to be clear on our stance. For several years we have called for an approach that more accurately reflects the role of a police officer. The full response we provided to the journalist who wrote the piece is as follows:  

“The fitness of the officers we represent is crucial and our first priority is the welfare of our members, but for some time we have had concerns the fitness test doesn’t reflect the physical challenges that come with being a police officer.

“We asked the force to consider the role of the fitness test and we welcome the pragmatic approach they have taken. The data so far speaks for itself. We will continue to monitor this, as will BTP.”

Federation meetings

Since the last blog we have attended various meetings on behalf of our members. These include the National Negotiating Meeting (NNM), Joint Central Committee (JCC) and our own Federation Management Board Meeting.


Discussion points at this month’s NNM included matters such as maternity back pay (more on this further down this blog), issues around the promotion process, the Optimised Policing Model, and updates on motions passed at our recent conference.


The JCC allowed us and our fellow staff associations at TSSA and the Superintendent’s Association the chance to meet with the Chief Constable. Matters that came forward included a presentation around the Optimised Policing Model (OPM). Although this is still in its infancy and we don’t yet know exactly how it will impact our divisions, it was apparent that there is a lot of good work across our force and unsurprisingly, we are excelling in certain areas.

Whilst there remain some unknowns around the OPM we do know that a lot of this is borne out of our most recent all-staff survey. I think when anything like this develops, we must learn lessons from previous experiences, for example, the recent Layers and Spans programmes. I’m aware that the staff involved put an awful lot of work into it, but it was not without its unavoidable challenges, and it is crucial that the Force reflects on this as we enter the OPM. What is as equally important is that we all engage in the process. I urge you all to interact when possible and help shape how this develops. As soon as we hear more about the OPM we will update you.

The Federation Management Board meeting is where your divisional secretaries and chairs meet with the Executive to discuss any concerns or emerging issues. It’s always something I find great value in. We get to hear first-hand about everything from issues that you need help to rectify, to some of the great work that you are all doing. Several matters causing you concern were raised, and these included the recent promotions process, what feels like an inordinate amount of blocked time around the Notting Hill Carnival and understandable angst around the length of time misconduct matters take to be resolved. We will of course report back to you all once we have spoken with the Force about these matters.

To help with rostering issues we were also advised that FRPU lead, Liz McWhirter, will be hosting some information sessions on Viva Engage. This will give our members some clarity on certain aspects of rosters that they may be unsure of. This is great work from Liz and very much welcomed by the Federation. In terms of communication and understanding, it’s a positive move.

Staying with communication and your local committees are each developing short newsletters which will be sent out in your respective areas. These will keep you updated on local issues and allow a reminder of who your local reps are and the roles that they carry out.

I’m keen to continue roadshows this year and will be attending areas throughout the Force to meet as many of you as possible. Please get in touch if you think this would be of particular benefit or interest to your area.

Op Overhand

As we know, Op Overhand was a difficult time for many in the force. It brought a lot of challenges, none more so than when those of you had last-minute cancellations that resulted in out-of-pocket expenses through no fault of your own. We didn’t think this was fair, particularly considering the current difficult financial climate. We made representation to the Force that consideration be given to refunding those who could evidence financial losses on paid events. It’s deeply disappointing that the Force disagreed with our view and after consideration, opted to not offer recompense to those impacted.

This is another example of our officers rising to the challenges, despite the personal impact, and putting policing as the priority. You really are a real credit to our profession, and we are lucky to have you.

Maternity back-pay

As many of you are aware, we have been waiting for some time for a definitive response to this Federation’s request to ensure parity with the Met and City Of London around Maternity Back Pay with London Allowance. We advised in the December blog that this was being sent to the Treasury for a final decision. We are absolutely delighted to advise that the Treasury has found in favour of the Federation and has agreed that this should be backdated back to 2015.

The Force will ensure that officers currently serving are paid by the end of May, once calculations have been sorted. Officers who have been impacted but have since left the Force will be traced and will also be paid, although this may take some time.

Thank you to all who have persisted with this, particularly the Female Police Association for their patience and perseverance. This is a notable example of using our National Negotiating Meetings successfully and it is a welcome outcome for those affected.

International Women's Day

IWD is 8th March and I want to take this opportunity to continue to help our Federation to evolve. I have recently been engaging with the FPA to determine why so few female officers in our Force put themselves forward to become Fed reps. We know this is an area we need to make more progress in and to do that, we need to understand the barriers that exist. To this end will be releasing a survey to gather feedback from female colleagues.

I know that you may feel ‘surveyed out’ however the survey comprises four questions and will only take a few minutes to complete. It will be anonymous and can potentially make a substantial difference to this Federation and to therefore to you, our members.

Awards of Excellence

Our annual Awards of Excellence ceremony takes place this year in Southampton at the end of September. As well as attending to conference business, we also get to celebrate the very best of you all. The Awards allow us to recognise and pay homage to some of the splendid work that happens within BTP daily.

But we need your help. This page on our website explains our new award categories. If you know of someone who fits the criteria, please do nominate them, and show them how much they are valued. The nominations close on 1 March so you have a few more days to complete the simple form.

I hope that this has been a useful blog and I look forward to writing to you all next month.

Until the next time. All the best.


Did you know… The amazing support for physical injuries provided by the Police Treatment Centres is widely recognised but were you aware the charity has a programme specifically for officers experiencing psychological issues? Fed rep, John Paul O’Kane, made use of the service last autumn and has written about the experience.