Chair's Blog for June


Hello and welcome to this month’s blog. Another busy month has passed since the last blog, and I know that it’s been a challenging time for many of you. I hope you find this month’s update useful. 

PFEW Ballot on Industrial Rights 

Many of you have contacted the Federation after being made aware of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) balloting its members as to whether they would like the body to campaign for the introduction of collective bargaining with binding arbitration for police officers' pay in England and Wales. 

My interpretation of this is that they are asking members if they would like Industrial Rights without the right to strike. At this stage there isn’t enough detail or information for me to publish similar. Anything we do on behalf of BTPF members must have substance attached to it, and in instances like this, a longer-term strategy other than a media headline grabber. 

If further information on the process and its impact becomes available and is such that our view changes, we will of course communicate with you all. 

Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB)

Following on from the above comments, many of you will be aware that when it comes to the annual pay award, BTP has parity of pay with PFEW. The parity agreement dates back to the 1960s and was hard fought for and won by the Federation reps of that era. What it means, in essence, is that what colleagues in Home Office forces are awarded is also awarded to us.

It is crucial we retain full parity, but it is just as important that we explore mechanisms whereby we can submit written evidence on pay and conditions to PRRB. 

This isn’t something we have ever had before; however, I have written to the head of PRRB to request that our voice be heard and to seek ways in which we can explain the impact of the unique working environment in which you, our members, work so impressively. You can read that letter here.

Encouragingly, not only does our Chief Constable support our voice being heard in this way, but she has also written to the PRRB to show that support and encourage them to engage with this Federation.

When we receive a response from PRRB we shall share this with our membership. 

Management Board Meeting 

The Management Board of the Federation met this month at our offices in West Dulwich. This meeting is an opportunity for the chairs and secretaries of each committee to get together to raise issues and concerns that you have. Should you have concerns or issues at work that you haven’t been able to resolve, it’s vital that you make your local committee aware. You can find out who your committee members are by accessing our new and improved Federation website. 

Items on the agenda that were discussed this week included concerns around the Optimised Policing Model (OPM) which will be discussed below, the proposed Federation welfare support vehicle (more on that soon), recruitment and retention issues, consistency around PSD decisions, general welfare support around Op Hampshire when our officers are assaulted on duty, and concerns that we are still suffering the after-effects from the Layers and Spans review. As well as these monthly blogs, your committees will be reaching out to you on a local level with newsletters, ensuring that you are being kept abreast of issues that matter specifically to you on area. 

Female Police Officers Survey

To coincide with International Women’s Day we ran a survey for female officers to complete in which we asked them about the barriers to becoming a Fed Rep. Women are significantly underrepresented in the Federation and having heard anecdotal evidence as to why this is, we set about trying to get some firm views the Federation can act on.

While the number of responses were quite low, some comments appeared consistently, and we took these to our recent Management Board meeting for further discussion:

  • Two-thirds of respondents have considered becoming a rep

  • Of those, two-thirds either changed their mind or are still thinking about it, but one-third have stood for election

  • In terms of the barriers:

    • The top barrier was current workload and how they would be able to balance that with being a rep

    • Next was not fully understanding what’s involved in being a rep

    • The third most common barrier was feeling they are not well-known enough for colleagues to consider voting for them

We asked respondents to expand on their answers or provide commentary if they felt able to. Around half commented on the male-dominated environment in the Force and/or Federation (particularly relating to colleagues who may/may not vote for them) and some had heard the Federation being described as a ‘boys club.’ Several said their part-time role or caring responsibilities outside work would prevent them from being a Fed rep.

From this feedback, there are steps we can take straightaway, including adding more information to our website about what’s involved in being a rep. We will also look to profile some of our reps and ask them to talk about the sort of work they do in this volunteer role. There is no doubt being a rep is challenging and can be time consuming, but it can also be rewarding – it’s important we share more about both sides.

We will look at how else we can promote both our volunteer vacancies and elections, so they reach the widest possible audience. We will also share the results with the Force in case there’s anything that can support us with.

We are introducing a dedicated Diversity and Equality Lead for the Federation, and part of that role will be to look at our own structures and processes. If we make things better for one group of people, we make them better for everyone, and we’re committed to doing this.

Optimised Policing Model (OPM)

We appreciate that there is a lot of concern around OPM and there is a worry that the aforementioned Layers and Spans fallout will also further impact OPM. We do acknowledge the impact this will have on our members, and we continually encourage those leading on OPM to be cognisant of you and the effect that this will have. Typically, being a copper means we hear a lot of rumours about certain things, and in this instance around numbers, particularly around losing people from posts to fill other areas. 

I encourage all of you to be involved as much as you can with OPM. If you have a view, then please share it. This can then help shape how OPM is being considered. 

For me there are certain non-negotiables. These include absolutely zero risk to your safety; every one of you should be able to go home to the people who mean most to you at the end of your duty. Another non-negotiable is ensuring your time off - which we all know is sacred - is minimally impacted. You all give so much each shift it’s only right you are allowed your time off to recover and spend it how you wish.

PTSD999 Big Summer Quiz 

Regular followers of our social media pages will be aware that we are showing our support again this year to raise awareness for a very worthy charity - PTSD999.

It was important on the back of the charity walk I completed last year with a very good friend and supporter of this Federation, Gary Thwaite, CEO of Civil Nuclear Police Federation that we ensured the conversation continued. Sadly, I know that some of you reading this are some of those who do need help and are suffering. We were humbled during our walk that some of your reached out to ask for that help. It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it’s a strength and a very brave thing to do.

To ensure we kept the conversation going this year, we joined forces with a few people to take part in the ‘PTSD999 Big Summer Quiz’ a quiz evening which included some wonderful auction and prize items. Again, the aim was to not only raise some much-needed funds for the charity but also keep raising the profile and highlight to people who are struggling there are individuals and organisations who really do want to help you. 

I’m really pleased that the evening was a success and a grand total of £14,000 was raised. On top of the £16000 we raised at last year’s walk this means we, and you, have helped raise £30,000 for this charity in the last year. 

This brings this month’s blog to an end. I hope that you have found this useful and please do reach out to with any feedback that you may have. 

Until the next time. 
All the best,

Stuart Cowan, Chair of BTP Federation