Chair's Blog for March


Welcome all to the March edition of the Chair’s blog. Each month, this blog allows me to update you on the work this Federation is doing on your behalf and share other updates that might be of interest to you. I hope that you can find the below useful.

Elizabeth Emblem

I will start this month’s blog with some positive news and offer our congratulations to a friend of the Federation, Bryn Hughes. Many of you will know that in 2012, Bryn’s police officer daughter, Nicola Hughes, was brutally murdered on duty along with her colleague, Fiona Bone.

Bryn’s personal tragedy spurred him on to not only set up a charity in Nicola’s name, but also to campaign for a medal in honour of fallen officers. This month, the Elizabeth Emblem was announced, which will be awarded as recognition to the next of kin of “those who lost their lives in the course of undertaking eligible public service”.

The Elizabeth Emblem incorporates a rosemary wreath - a traditional symbol of remembrance - surrounding the Tudor Crown and it is inscribed with For A Life Given In Service. It is the civilian equivalent of the Elizabeth Cross, which recognises members of the UK armed forces who died in action or as a result of a terrorist attack.

Both Bryn and Fiona Bone’s father, Paul, have campaigned tirelessly for this recognition. They should be enormously proud of what they have achieved.

Home Office Accountability Review

Staying with external news I want to draw your attention to the publication of the Home Office’s Accountability Review. The review was announced in September and submissions were invited from various stakeholders, including the Federation.

The resulting report was published this month with some significant headlines, including that investigations into police officers suspected of committing offences in the line of duty will be sped up to provide swifter clarity to both officers and victims. In a public statement, the Home Secretary James Cleverly MP, said he recognised that officers were losing confidence in using their powers effectively, particularly when using force. He added that he recognised this wasn’t just an issue for firearms officers but for many others too.

The government will also amend the threshold for referring police officers for criminal prosecution, so that only cases that have a reasonable prospect of conviction should be referred – as is already the test for members of the public suspected of committing a crime.

As regular readers of the Chair’s blog will know, this is something that this Federation has called on for some time now. What must not be forgotten is the significant impact, and at times, lasting damage on the mental well-being of not just those under investigation but also their loved ones. The IOPC/PIRC have a responsibility here and must be held to account. We await with interest how this is put into practice and will challenge appropriately when required.

Social Media

Moving onto internal matters, I know that there has been recent speculation around discussions on Viva Engage about WhatsApp/messaging groups/social media posts. I’m also aware that it’s an emotive subject and it’s one I’ve mentioned to you before. Can I encourage you all to please look at your social media, your WhatsApp/messaging groups, and your associations, reflect on what’s there and the appropriateness of it. If in doubt, delete.

It’s also important that we refrain from commenting/posting on any contentious matters. The Federation is working on a webinar on this subject which will be open to all within BTP. This will be about reflection, education and giving us all confidence around spending time online. Further details will be sent out soon.

Non-BTP patches/insignia

Another matter that I’ve spoken about before is the wearing of non-BTP badges that are linked to police and policing charities. We understand the good intentions and pride attached to these and we know that there are a number of these around.

The Force has made it clear that it needs to maintain a degree of uniformity and we welcomed the Chief’s decision last year that our officers could wear the ‘Thin Blue Line’ badges. However, it came with a caveat that this was to be the only type to be worn. Failure to adhere to that and the wearing of custom-made type badges and apparel may result in the withdrawal of approval to wear the Thin Blue Line badges.

It’s been brought to our attention that the more custom-made designs are creeping back in. I urge you all that if you are wearing these types of badges and continue to do so it may result in the removal of authorisation to wear any.


Our ongoing programme of training continues at pace with our newest reps receiving misconduct training. As Federation Friends, reps can accompany a police officer to any interview, meeting, or hearing, which forms part of any proceedings under the Conduct or Performance Regulations.

Firearms officer and experienced Fed rep, Mark Perryman, delivered training on post-incident procedures this month. Post-incident investigations apply in all situations where there has been a discharge of a weapon by the police and from a Federation perspective it’s essential that welfare is considered from the outset.

We also recently teamed up with Jo McEwan and Ann Stevens of Positive Pause for menopause awareness training. The training provided an overview and understanding of menopause and its symptoms, followed by information on the legislation that can help reps to ensure officers are treated fairly and properly in the workplace. Reps were also provided with an extensive list of resources to help them with this.

Survey of female colleagues

 We know that being a Federation rep isn't for everyone but we're keen to understand the barriers that prevent female members from volunteering. We have some anecdotal evidence as to why some women have thought twice about becoming reps, but if we’re going to make progress in overcoming this, we need to fully understand all the hurdles that exist.

On International Women's Day (8 March) we launched a survey to gather feedback from our female members. To date we have had far fewer responses than we have female officers, so we have extended the survey to 7 April.

Please get involved here – your responses are anonymous.

Federation meetings

This month saw our Health and Safety committee have their latest meeting. This is an opportunity for each H&S rep in your area to come together and share any issues and establish any emerging patterns. Matters discussed at this latest meeting - which will be fed back out to you via your reps – included: Potential Naloxone rollout (more on this in next month's blog), Control Room issues, building inspections including the air quality in the Sunderland office, property store issues at Birmingham New Street due to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete and officer safety, linked to a number of officer assaults and the rollout of the new OST package.

Health and Safety is such an important area for us and there is an awful lot that falls under this, including PPE, equipment, rosters, lone working, and training to name but a few. If you have an issue that you think falls under this then please reach out to your local H&S rep.

It's very simple, our members must be safe at work and the Force has a legal obligation to ensure that this happens.

Awards of Excellence

Thanks to everyone who nominated colleagues for a BTP Federation Award of Excellence. A panel of reps met earlier this month to decide the winners and you will find out more about them this autumn.

When we introduced awards categories this year, we didn’t know which way it would go, but we received more nominations than ever before and the stories you told us were outstanding. Naturally, this made the judging panel’s job difficult and led to much deliberation.

The Awards are a source of immense pride and are an opportunity to share some good news with stakeholders, journalists and the wider public. I will look forward to overseeing proceedings at our awards ceremony in September.

And finally

Mental health support for police officers remains a focus for this Federation and me personally. You’ll remember that last summer I teamed up with Gary Thwaite, CEO of Civil Nuclear Police Federation, for the Blue Light Hike. We walked from the Lake District to London in two weeks, covering 500 kilometres and raising £16,000 for the charity PTSD999.

This year we’re organising The Big Summer Quiz and will again raise money for PTSD999 and help to keep the spotlight on mental health amongst emergency responders.

It's estimated that police officers are exposed to between 400-600 traumatic events within their career, compared to members of the public who, on average, will experience four. This repeated exposure to trauma, along with a raft of other challenges, can have a seriously detrimental effect on an officer's mental health.

We know you’re under pressure. Traumatic incidents, workloads, shifts, the cost-of-living crisis all contribute to how you’re feeling. Since the Blue Light Hike last year, me and Gary have spoken to officers across the country about the difficulties you’re facing, which makes us even more determined to raise money for a charity that provides both practical and emotional support.

PTSD999 sources and funds treatment, provides training and raises awareness of the impact post-traumatic stress disorder has on a person's life. Money raised at the Big Summer Quiz will support this essential work. You’ll see more about this on our website and social media; any help you can give us by sharing these posts means reaching more people who might be able to help us with our fundraising. Thank you.

Before I sign off, a quick reminder that could save your blushes... If you’re reading this blog before Easter weekend, please don’t forget the clocks ‘spring’ forward in the small hours of Sunday 31 March.

Until the next time. All the best,


Did you know… Serve and Protect Credit Union hold free webinars throughout the year to help you look after your money. The next, on Friday 5 April, explores ways to manage the cost of living. Find out more and reserve your place here.

Stuart Cowan - Chair, BTP Federation