Open Meeting 2017 - Chairman's Speech
It's been a sad year for the Constabulary as we have lost three serving officers, so before we get underway I want to take a moment to remember those colleagues who we have lost in service over the past 12 months.
PC Nev Stokes passed away in March this year after a brave battle with cancer. Nev was a remarkable and inspirational man who is missed by all who knew him. His wife Vanessa and their boys are always in our thoughts.
In June this year we lost PC Bron Davies following a short illness. Bron was such a well-loved officer by all who knew her. She is sadly missed.
In August we lost PC Martin Jacobs. Martin was a dear friend and a big part of our Federation. We are still coming to terms with his loss. His Fiancee Amber is a big part of our family and we will always be there for her. Martin will never be forgotten.
Can we stand to remember all those officer we have lost over the past 12 months, we will never forget them.
Chief Constable, welcome to your second Open Meeting...you are no longer the new Chief so it's fair to say the honeymoon period is well and truly over...
People ask if these Open Meetings are worthwhile, do they make a difference. I think it's important that you, our members have an opportunity to ask questions directly of the Chief and me but more importantly to get answers.
As a result of issues I raised on your behalf last year we have had some good results. We have seen the full roll out of Spit Guards to frontline officers, we have seen the increase of our officer safety training from 1 day to 2 days and we have seen an increase in Taser - but I want more....
In addition, I'm pleased to say that after lobbying for a bonus payment for Level 2 Public Order officers this has now been agreed. A £200 payment will be issued to those who completed Level 2 for this year. This is recognition of the impact that this role has and I'm grateful that the Chief Officer team have listened and supported my request.
But we haven't agreed on everything. Last year I called for an increase in the South East Allowance.
Officers across Hampshire and the IOW who receive this allowance receive £1000 a year. The Government gave Chief Constables the ability to increase this payment up to £3000 per year.
Some Chief Constables have done the right thing and increased the payment.
Thames Valley pay £2000
Sussex now pay £1500
Essex pay £2000
Kent pay £2000
Surrey pay £2500 plus a fuel allowance
Our officers remain on the lowest possible amount, why should they be different to colleagues who work in adjoining Forces, it's just wrong.
And the reason I say its wrong is because we know that many of our officers are struggling financially. We now have officers asking the Welfare Fund for food vouchers....
That's Police officers asking a charity for help to put food on the table. When I raised this with the Home Secretary earlier this year she said she was surprised as police officers were well paid at an average of £40k. This is nothing but contemptable....
We also have a situation where an officer in Hampshire has been made homeless because she can't afford to pay her rent. A police officer now living in emergency Bed and Breakfast accommodation. It's just wrong....
I'm not saying the £1000 south east allowance has caused this. The pay freeze and then pay cap has seen, in real terms a 16% pay cut for officers.
This is not sustainable and we know many of our members are facing financial vulnerability the likes of which have not been seen since the 1970's when officers were relying on benefits just to get by.
And you will have all heard the announcement from Government that they have shattered the 1% public sector pay cap and awarded police a 2% pay increase.
Let's get the facts straight...They have not broken the pay cap....
We have received a pay award in line with the pay cap of 1% with a one off non pensionable annual bonus of 1%. .So don't be fooled that this is a 2% pay increase, those who are saying this are lying.
This is why an increase in the south east allowance is long overdue. Ma'am, when I raised this with you last year you said you wanted to wait and see what other Forces did, well now you know...
The vast majority pay more than we do and some have increased the overall amount. Indeed your previous Force, Sussex, has increased the allowance by £500. Not a life changing amount but it certainly demonstrates they are looking after their people.
Chief Constable, I ask again, please reconsider your position and give your officers a financial lifeline. Increase the south east allowance.
Whilst I'm making requests I have another......Some time ago I asked that we consider arranging a subsidised travel scheme with local train companies. This was rejected by the previous Chief Constable as he said it was an integrity issue.
A number of other Forces have local agreements which benefit the officer, the train company and the traveling public. It's not an integrity issue for them!
With officers often traveling great distances to work.... Such an agreement with local train companies could be of real benefit. I know that the train companies want officers on their trains; can this be something we take forward together? This would be of real help.
I want to talk about the demand being placed on our officers and staff. The pressures are unprecedented, it's relentless. We have seen demand increase to unsustainable levels and it's not just more demand from the public, it's the self-imposed demand which is causing us issues.
We now have officers having to tick boxes and fill forms just to please the bureaucrats rather than to serve the public. We have Investigators struggling to cope with work load, we have Response officers struggling to get to jobs, Neighbourhood Teams who have an unmanageable workload and we have control room staff who, on a daily basis simply run out of units to send to jobs. This is a reality of policing.
For several years we have been given promises by previous Chief Constables that we would reduce the demand being placed on officers and stop doing things, we have been promised that other partners would pick up their fair share of work and if it wasn't a police matter we wouldn't deal with it. All broken promises which have resulted in even more work being piled on our overstretched officers and staff.
Mental Health is a great example of this. We have done some brilliant work in this area and much to be proud of. However, it's not all as great as it seems. The number of Mental Health patients being put in police cells has dropped significantly, a great success you would think...
Recently, I visited a station during the early hours and found a mental health patient, a young girl sleeping in a rest room with an officer looking after them. They had been there for several hours waiting for the mental health team to find a bed for the patient. This was not an isolated incident. So the problem still exists, we just hide it better. So more broken promises.
And Chief Constable, last year you introduced a policy on Domestic Violence which saw common sense being applied, where we ensured those who really needed our help received it.
The argument over the remote control or the ex-partner being nasty on Facebook would receive appropriate advice but those at real risk of harm would get the help they should, this was about protecting the vulnerable.
This approach worked well and whilst there was always an element of risk we were doing the right thing for the right reason.
Then the HMIC got involved. They condemned this approach and forced a U turn which resulted in every call even remotely linked to a domestic incident receiving a response which in many cases is disproportionate, unnecessary and unwanted by those who call us.
So every call linked to a domestic incident must receive a call on. Because of this decision Control room staff have multiple jobs outstanding with some jobs waiting for days to be deployed to.
We have situations where the caller - the victim - who may have only called for advice is so incensed that the police are insisting on visiting them that they are then making complaints against us for harassing them....We truly have lost the plot.
Ma'am, because of the way we are doing things the system is being crippled. Control room can't cope with the demand, our neighbourhood and response officers are overwhelmed with unnecessary jobs.
Your approach worked, let's be brave and do the right thing for the victims and reclaim our common sense, go back to your plan where victims are at the heart of what we do rather than this perverse situation which is causing us so much grief.
Over the past 12 months we have seen the Chief Constable highlight 'looking after our people' as one of her priorities.
Ma'am - I know you and other members of the Chief Officer Team care passionately about looking after your people. Sadly, many of those rank and file officers I represent are simply not seeing the benefit of this initiative.
Sometimes we overcomplicate simple ideas, they become a process which then become a tick box and then they become meaningless. The passion you have doesn't always trickle through to the troops on the ground. This is something that must change. Looking after our people will never really succeed until we start to reduce the demand on our officers and staff. The relentless pressure our people are under is unsustainable, we simply can't keep going as we are which is why until that changes 'looking after our people' becomes nothing more than a poster on a wall and something people will quote during a promotion board. It can and should be so much more than that.
I support your ideas, they will make a difference but we can't ignore the simple things. Printers that work, fixing broken chairs, having an estate that is fit for purpose....being paid correctly.It's not much to ask!
And on the issue of pay....We identified problems with H3 last year and to be fair some good work to fix those problems has taken place. However, we are still having issues where officers receive the wrong pay and where there are overpayments officers are seeing deductions from their salary with no notice.
Let me make this clear, to take any amount from an officers pay, no matter how small, without their permission is unlawful. Now we have warned the Force many times over this but it still continues to happen. We will take legal action against the Force if this continues, Chief Constable, this is not a threat...it's a promise, please get this sorted.
The reality is we don't have enough people to deal with the demand we have. Let me put it in context...
In 2007 for every 100,000 members of the public we had 215 police officers to look after them.
In 2017 that has reduced from 215 to 147.
We have reduced officer numbers by over 25% but the demand being placed on those left behind is increasing. This is not sustainable, people are breaking....this is a crisis which we can't ignore.
So to truly look after our people we need to reduce the demand, stop doing things and when we make decisions we stick to them...otherwise they just become another broken promise.
The safety of our officers is a priority for me and Hampshire Police Federation. We have seen some vicious assaults on our officers. The work we started here in Hampshire ensures all officers and staff who get assaulted are treated as any victim should be.
I have worked tirelessly to ensure our colleagues get whatever support they need but there is much more to do;
The issue of single crewing is a serious one. With the reduction of officer numbers and bigger areas to cover the fact is that officers feel vulnerable, they are at risk. We had been promised that a common sense approach to single crewing would be adopted.
Let local Sgt's decide what's best; that was the promise. However, we have seen cases where Sgt's have been instructed to single crew more and more. This goes against the agreement, yet more broken promises. Chief Constable, don't allow your officers to be deployed depending on what a computer programme says, empower your Sgt's, allow them to do what's right and this will make officers feel valued.
We also need to increase the number of Tasers; and my position on this is well known, we should issue Taser to any frontline officer who wants one. We know the public support this so now it's just an issue of funding.
The Government must provide extra funding for this essential equipment, we know it has saved officers and the public from serious injury...
In the past few months alone Taser has without doubt saved the life of more than one officer. This equipment is not a nice to have, it's a must have.
You'll know that after a terrorist attack or a serious incident politicians crawl out of the woodwork to praise the police for what they do; Well talk is cheap, we don't need kind words, we need funding for essential equipment like Taser.
I have a message for Government....If you do support us, put your money where your mouth is and fund safety critical equipment such as Taser. To leave this to local Chief Constables is a cop out and creates a post code lottery on officer safety. This is unfair, unsafe and must change.
As your local Federation we do much more than just give you a diary...they are on the way....
Much of what we do goes on behind the scenes but we do make a difference. I accept we don't always get things right but we do our best for you, our members.
We have made a short video which hopefully shows that we are there for you in times of need...
My thanks to Jo, Danielle, Rosemary, Karl and Geoff for taking part and sharing their story.
Well, this time last year I announced my intention to stand as the National Chairman of the Police Federation....Well that was premature....
I've had many messages asking why the delay and what's happening. Let me explain...
The rules are changing which will allow local Chairs and Secretaries of local Boards across England and Wales to stand as your National Chair.
Under the new rules every officer across England & Wales will have a vote, so you will have a say on who you want as your National Chair. A great step forward.
The rules should have changed last year but there have been frustrating delays....It is anticipated they will change in January next year so we are nearly there...
So yes, when the time allows I will stand to be your National Chairman.
If I am honoured to be elected to the National Chairman's position I promise you that my passion for what I do will not change, my passion to represent you will not change.
No matter what happens it's a privilege to be your local Chairman, an honour to be your voice and I want to thank you for your support.
Thank you for listening