Chair's Blog for May


Dear Members,

I hope that this latest blog finds you and yours as safe and well as can be. With quite a busy blog this month I shall get straight to the updates.

Federation Group Insurance Scheme (GIS)

Regular readers of Federation comms will be aware that at the start of May we changed insurance brokers from George Burrows to Ardonagh. This marked the end of our term with George Burrows, and we would like to thank the team for their help and support over the years.

This change will allow the Federation to continue to grow and improve how we serve our membership, ensuring that you have the best options at your disposal. We’re looking forward to building relations with Ardonagh and there are some really exciting opportunities coming which I will share with you in the near future. For now, I want to focus on the cover provided. 

One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of the GIS for certain aspects of cover. One that I’d like to stress is the off-duty legal cover. If you are in the unfortunate position of requiring off-duty legal cover you are not covered simply by being a Federation member. You must subscribe to the GIS to be covered. Legal costs are not cheap and run into many thousands of pounds; this is one of the reasons we have increased off-duty cover from £10,000 to £15,000. In today’s challenging financial climate, it’s less and less likely we will have sufficient funds to pay for our own legal cover so for this alone, GIS makes good sense.

We have shared a circular that explains what’s included in the group insurance package and the cost (£28.80 lunar monthly for serving officers, £28.26 calendar monthly for Special Constables and options for partners, retired officers and so on).

All of that information is also on our website, along with the cover brochure which has the relevant phone numbers, codes and information you need to make claims. Lastly, if you’re not in the GIS but would like to be, you’ll also find the joining form on our site too.

Optimised Policing Model (OPM)

As the Force continues to shape the future with their plans under OPM we are considering how that impact you, our members.

We know that the Force is exploring opportunities to combine all resources into a singular Neighbourhood Policing Sector model with plans to remove the need for permanent and dedicated squads, meaning all officers work within a single line of responsibility, accountability and on a common shift pattern.

There is still a lot that we don’t know, what this means in basic terms and what changes will come to fruition. Communication must be clear and concise and there must be consideration to any roster changes. I’ve made representation to the Force encouraging them to reflect on the Layers and Spans programme and learn from that process and how we felt that was rolled out.

Some very experienced officers said to me, when I joined, that we can accept a lot, however what can’t be played around with is our pay and our time off. That’s as true today as it was back then, and I plead with the Force to be mindful of the aspect of time off when it comes to definitive changes.

What has been a real plus for me is how keen the Force has been to involve and include you all in this. To that end, I’d encourage everyone reading this to share their views, thoughts and concerns, whether positive or negative, with the Force. As a Federation we also have dedicated reps on each division to assist you on a local level should you require that. I would encourage you to contact them with any issues and also copy them into any comms that you send to the Force.

Your local reps are:

BTP Employee Healthcare Scheme

Most of you will be aware of the introduction of the BTP Employee Healthcare scheme but by way of a recap, it covers members who may from time to time be unable to work or undertake full duty requirements due to symptoms or heath conditions requiring medical interventions such as specialist consultations, medical investigations and/or treatment.

We know that long NHS waiting times for these interventions may prolong the time that colleagues are unfit for work or unable to perform full duties. In some cases, symptoms may be due to injury or harm at work.

It’s great that BTP recognises that long delays for treatment and ongoing absence or restrictions are not good for individuals and may also impact on their colleagues.  Therefore, the Force has put in place a process where individuals - supported by their line manager - can apply for funding for medical interventions, where the expected outcome of the intervention is to help the employee to return to work (which may be recuperative initially) and/or full duties.

This covers all officers and Specials who are injured in the course of their duties.

What is also welcome is that it can also assist with injuries not caused by work. Where you have been assessed as likely to be absent for 28 days or more, a maximum funding amount of £500 may be agreed (this amount is in line with HMRC guidance).

More information on this scheme can be found on the Force intranet. This is a really positive scheme and the culmination of action by this Federation, our members, and the Force.

The Federation raised this as a motion at conference a few years ago and it gained support from the Force. Additionally, many of you used the Force’s ‘All People Survey’ to put this suggestion forward and again it met with their support.

I thank the Force for being supportive and realising the benefits of this. I would also like to thank those of you who used the All People Survey to add collective weight to the proposal from the Federation. It’s a great example of how your voice matters and can make tangible changes.

Female officers survey

While I’m on the subject of surveys, thanks to those of you who participated in our survey of female officers in which we asked for feedback on the barriers to becoming a Fed rep.

There are some immediate improvements we can make. For example, several of you suggested we have more detailed information on our website about what’s involved in being a Fed rep. We’re drafting that now and will share the link when it’s live on the site. Other issues aren’t as easy to solve. One of the main reasons respondents gave for not considering a role as a Fed rep is that current workload wouldn’t allow it. 

We’re going to discuss your anonymous replies at our next Management Board meeting in June and share both the results and our next steps afterwards.

Full time role - London rep

Staying with theme of the role of Fed reps, after a long and tough process the Federation was finally successful in reintroducing a full-time Federation role in the London area.

You may remember we had a full-time rep in Mark Bishop, but that post was lost when he retired in 2022. The process to reinstate the role has been painstaking at times, but the outcome is positive and formally recognises that hard work and effort that goes into the Federation in an area with a significant concentration of officers and Specials.

After recent notes of interest and election processes, Paul Miller (pictured below) has been elected to this role. Those of you who know Paul know he is passionate about making a difference to our members and helping those in need. Paul’s tenacity, wisdom, knowledge, professionalism, and good humour are some of the many qualities that mean he is perfect for this role, and I know that the Federation is far stronger with Paul in place.

As part of his portfolio, Paul will also be the Federation lead for Equality, Inclusion and Diversity. This is the first time the Federation have had such a role and it will be vital as we shape our future.

My sincere thanks to those in Force who helped support this role which is important for our members. We will provide an update once Paul has been released from his current role.

Federation victim and witness support

There is a long-established myth that the Federation is only here to support those members of have been accused of some form of allegation.

This is incorrect.

We do support members who have allegations made against them (with further consideration of legal support) but what we also do, just as importantly, is support those of you in the Force who may be victims or witnesses.

It’s vital that all members of the Federation feel supported. You have my assurance that we are here to assist all of you, and you have my commitment that you will be supported with complete discretion. We have explained more about our approach here.

We need help from all of you though. As it stands, I only become aware that there may be victims or witnesses in the Force through word of mouth. That’s not a great system and naturally means people may not get the support that they deserve and that they are entitled to.

I’m working hard with the Force and in particular, PSD to change that mindset and ensure that it’s clear that the Federation is here for everyone. In the meantime, if you know of someone who needs our assistance, please encourage them to contact us. 

Retired officers

The final update I wanted to share is about our retired colleagues. Earlier this month our Treasurer, Pete Kingham, attended the AGM of the National Association of Retired BTP Officers in London. It’s an important date in the calendar as we get to spend time with those who went before us.

In a world where we’re all pushing forward and evolving I think we can learn a lot from tapping into the experiences that our retired officers have. I’ve been very fortunate to attend the NW branch of NARBTPO meetings on several occasions and I say with all sincerity I never fail to learn something of value. I also never fail to leave without sore sides at some of the funny stories from days gone by.

Fed rep Brian Williams recently visited a NARBTPO member in her retirement home in Kent. Judith Martin had been sharing fond memories of her service in and around Brighton with fellow residents and staff, so they got in touch with us to see if it would be possible for an officer to pay her a visit. Brian gave his time to have a cuppa and a chat with Judith (both pictured below), who was delighted to have someone to reminisce with.

I’d love to see the Force invite some of our retired officers in to visit our new recruits at the training stage and have them share some of their much-valued wisdom.

If you are coming up to retirement please do consider joining NARBTPO. It’s a great way to stay connected and you can find more information here.

I hope that this month’s blog has been of use to you.  If you wish to raise anything with the Federation please check on our website for details of your local reps or contact our office at info@btpfed.co.uk

Until next time, all the best,

Stuart Cowan - BTP Federation Chair