Chair's Blog for Jan


I'd like to welcome you all to my first blog of 2023. I hope that you all had a happy festive period and everyone reading this can look forward to a very prosperous year ahead.


Let's be frank; this is not a subject I wanted to start the year on, but it would be wrong of me not to. There has been a lot said about the deplorable actions of this person and I'm not sure that I'm eloquent enough to appropriately convey my thoughts.

I have heard a lot said about the narrative that he was one of 'us' He absolutely isn't one of 'us'.

It stung me to see that in black and white and it led to me to think, what exactly is 'us'? What I think unites us is helping people, caring for people, having the ability to separate right from wrong and everything that comes between, all whilst wearing the badge with a source of pride. That to me is 'us' where the good overwhelmingly towers over the bad. We are surrounded by good cops and as I said in my first conference speech, nobody dislikes a bad cop more than a good cop.

But there can be no mistake. Policing, like society must root out any evil. We don't want them amongst us. Nobody does.

I don't believe that good cops are at fault. I do believe however, that the policing system is broken in respect of the fact that Forces enable evil in amongst us. This is where the overriding issue lies. I don't believe you become rotten because you have joined the police. Let's look at the entry systems and have the highest possible standards when we seek new recruits. This is where our anger and frustration should be directed. Let's fix the system that allows them to work alongside us. Let's consider amongst other things, a return to home visits, as an example.

This week I have written to the Chief Constable to reconfirm our commitment to supporting the Force to make necessary and appropriate changes that will enable us all to do the good work the public expects of us while dealing robustly with those who let victims and the police service down.

Layers and Spans

As you will be aware the consultation period for the Layers and Spans review has now closed. It has been an emotive subject and one that's brought about a lot of conversation, and angst, amongst our members.

The Federation set its stall out by writing to the Layers and Spans team requesting that the process was placed on pause, citing that we don't believe we are yet ready for change. This pause would allow for greater collaborative working with our members, provide a better understanding of the what's happening and to look to allay fears by sharing facts.

This review has caused our colleagues uncertainty around where they are going to be based, whether they must move home, what their career development opportunities are and simply put, whether they have a future within the BTP. The term 'counterproposal' was used often; unfortunately, those impacted felt unsure what the proposal was they were meant to counter.

It was with great disappointment that at the time of writing this blog the Federation hasn't received a response or even an acknowledgement of this correspondence. We are continuing to make representations to the Force regardless of this.

Perinatal Mental Health

Earlier this month your Federation Executive attended a perinatal mental health seminar at GMP HQ in Manchester. It was a real education to be there and listen to a variety of speakers, including a friend of our Federation, Dr Sarah Jane Lennie, ex BTP staff Dr Keely Duddin, Scott Mair of Fathers Beacon and PS Jen Sharpling of the Met Police who created A Blue Mind charity.

It's a subject that can impact so many and isn't spoken about enough as it's deemed to be taboo. One in five females and one in ten males are impacted by perinatal issues and Dani Gillet who is the training advisor for PaNDAS (Peri-Natal and Ante-Natal Depression Advice Support) told us how, post-pandemic, requests for their support have risen by 250%.

I'm keen that BTP and the Federation can provide more support in this regard. Part of that is educating ourselves on the impact of perinatal mental health - hence attending the conference and hearing from people who have been affected. I look forward to the Federation working closely with some of the speakers to ensure we are in the best position possible to assist.

Station Visits

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with some of our colleagues based at Kings Cross, Euston and Paddington. It was an impromptu visit to listen to the thoughts and views of those on the frontline. It's the most crucial role in the force and often the first point of contact for those in need. I heard from various officers about concerns around the new body worn cameras, how they feel they are ineffective, untrustworthy, over-complicated and a poor replacement for the Axon cameras. Our treasurer, Pete Kingham, is sitting on the BWV working group and is relaying your concerns. If you would like to share your experiences, good or bad, then please email Pete.Kingham@btpfed.co.uk

Other issues that we were informed of included a lack of vehicles, resulting in hours lost waiting on uplift from colleagues, to finding out that we have new recruits leaving training and not having any uniform. This is particularly disappointing and not only is it a big Health and Safety concern, but it leaves our new officers not feeling valued and really does offer us professional embarrassment. We will be addressing this with the Force to ensure that this isn't something that happens again.

Another issue that was highlighted to us was the concerns around Solo Patrol. Those who know me know how against Solo Patrol I am, and always have been. I don't believe it's safe and really is a detriment to officer wellbeing. I've heard before the argument around public perception but in all my service I've never had a member of the public tell me it doesn't look good. I have, however had members of the public tell me that it doesn't look good when an officer is standing on a concourse on their phone. Unbeknown to them this is officers updating paperwork via their mobile device and given the demands on them, this is often the only opportunity they have to do so.

I understand it's a tough balance to have but we must do all we can to ensure officers feel safe. Just like we can explain and rationalise officers updating mobile devices, we can also rationalise not being on solo patrol.

I'd like to say a huge thanks to one of our local reps, PC Tom Jepson who accompanied me on my visit and helped to facilitate the day. Was great to see how passionate he is about the Force, and the Federation, and how in tune he was with officers' concerns.

Awards of Excellence/Lifetime Achievement

We are still seeking nominees for this year's Federation Awards of Excellence. It's the perfect opportunity to showcase the very best of our members.

Having been lucky enough to go around numerous stations and speak to our officers I'm fully aware of some outstanding work that's been carried out by you. What's different about these awards is they are for you, by you so if you know of colleagues who would be worthy recipients then please follow the link and complete the simple nomination form.

Likewise, we are encouraging names to be put forward for winners of the lifetime achievement award. If you know of someone that you feel is worthy of this recognition, then the link above also takes you to the relevant form.

Please note, the closing date for nominations is Friday 24 February.

Retired Officers

And finally... undoubtedly one of the highlights of my short time in this role so far was attending the retired officers (NARBPTO) lunch in Liverpool. It was an honour to meet so many former officers and listening to some of their stories really was a privilege, as was seeing the genuine joy in their face as they fondly looked back on their time in BTP.

I'd love for us to find a way of inviting our retired officers in for an afternoon to speak to our officers in training to share their wisdom and bits of advice. I've absolutely no doubt a couple of hours in the presence of our retired officers would stand the new brigade in great stead.

That's all for this blog but in signing off I want you all to know that the Federation appreciates the work that you do. It may not feel like it at times, but you are valued. Please be proud of the role that you do and what you represent.

Until the next time, all the best.


Did you know... BTP Federation is a proud supporter of the Rail Dogs Benevolent Fund (RDBF)? This independent not-for-profit fund was set up to grant financial support for the costs of providing healthcare, and in some cases general care, of police dogs that have been retired.

BTP's canine crime fighters work hard during their careers, assisting in detaining criminals and finding drugs and proceeds of crime amongst other things, and it's important they are looked after in their retirement. The Federation recently supported the production of fundraising calendars for the RDBF. Find out more about their work at www.raildogs.fund

Stuart Cowan
Chair, BTP Federation