Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation
Nigel posts regular blog comments of issues of importance to policing and the BTPF in particular.
Colleagues, here is the Federation blog for June 2021. I wish to start by taking this opportunity to firstly congratulate both our Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi and Chief Superintendent Dennis Murray on being awarded the Queens Police Medal (QPM) in The Queen's 2021 Birthday Honours. The honour for the Chief Constable is in recognition of distinguished services to the Policing of Specialist Operations in the UK and for C/Supt Murray it is in recognition of improving diversity within policing and building trust and strong relationships with local communities. Both honours are well deserved and again showcase some of the excellent work of BTP.
G7 Summit and the Euros
While on the topic of excellent work, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all in BTP who were involved in the G7 summit in Cornwall this month. Some officers were on mutual aid, and some were working within the BTP operation; whatever your role, I am told it made a difference and helped to ensure the summit passed off successfully. Your time, efforts, dedication to duty and time away from families has not gone unnoticed and yet again you all demonstrated how professional you are and how we can stand shoulder to shoulder with our Home Office colleagues in providing an excellent policing service. So, a big thank you from all in the Federation for a job well done.
It doesn't stop there as many of you are now engaged with policing the Euros and the thousands of fans travelling across Britain to watch the football in stadiums or on big screens in town and city centres. Again, you are being asked to enter a space where there are many fans in song, in drink and possibly not adhering to social distancing rules, which creates a risk to all who travel, including you.
Clearly, it is your role to police our national rail infrastructure and on occasions you must be up close and personal, and this is causing concern amongst those who have yet to be vaccinated. It is still very concerning that police officers were not given some form of priority with regards to vaccinations and it is truly disappointing that Police Chiefs, Ministers and so many others didn't do more to insist and encourage decision makers to allow for officers to be vaccinated.
BTP are monitoring the impact of Covid during this busy spell, and it is truly amazing how so many of you continue to turn out to do your job with resolve and determination. We are also aware that the Force is returning many rest day cancellations where the resourcing levels are no longer required due to Covid restrictions remaining in place. While some fans are not adhering to some of the restrictions - and that includes the wearing of face coverings - the levels of travelling fans are reduced due to the restrictions not being lifted on 21 June as planned. Obviously, that may change next month when we move into the knock-out stages and more fans are able to travel.
That said, we are informed that fans who are travelling on train services are those with reserved seats only and to a maximum of 300 passengers per train which allows for certain social distancing measures to be in place. We have received some reports that this may not be happening across all services, and we have raised this concern with the Force. If you are out on serials, escorting fans, and the trains are busier than suggested and social distancing is an issue, then please feed that information back to your line mangers or the Federation. These facts can hopefully influence future plans and decisions for the next occasion, but also allow BTP to link in with stakeholders to ensure plans are in place so all are protected, and safe travel can occur.
We are also aware that certain rest day cancellations are being reinstated to officers who are no longer required for particular operations. We are being asked if you can be forced to take the rest day, having now planned to work and arranged childcare and so on. The answer is that if you are given more than eight days' notice, you should revert to your rest day and take the day off. If the notice is given less than 8 days in advance, then you can choose whether you still wish to work on that day and have your rest day re-rostered or have the day off. This ruling applies to rest day cancellations or rest day workings. You must, however, inform BTP and the DMS team which option you are choosing; you cannot simply just turn up for work and believe your RD is banked or re-rostered. I hope this helps and resolves any concerns.
Manchester Arena Attack Inquiry
I suspect many of you are aware and have read Volume One of the Manchester Arena inquiry that was published this month. In its introduction, the Chairman of the Inquiry, The Honourable Sir John Saunders explained:
"Volume One will address the security arrangements at the Ariana Grande concert. It will identify the missed opportunities for detecting and stopping SA or reducing the harm he caused. I am publishing this volume now so that any recommendations that I make can be considered as soon as possible".
As you will know, several of our colleagues have given evidence to the inquiry and others will be called to do so in due course. The Federation has supported these officers throughout and will continue to do so. The Federation representatives are Carol Peters who has been appointed as BTP Federation's Single Point of Contact for members throughout the Inquiry. Carol is supported by Federation Rep, Cath Daley. Both Cath and Carol can be contacted as per the circular that was issued earlier this month or by obtaining their details from the Federation website.
Since the day of this callous attack, our thoughts have been with the families of the 22 innocent people who lost their lives and the many individuals who were injured. That remains the case. However, we don't underestimate the impact of the incident and subsequent Inquiry on you, our members. We are here if you need us, whether you have been directly involved in the Inquiry or not.
In addition to the support available from us, BTP has arranged a specialist support service for those impacted by the Manchester Arena Inquiry. This will be delivered by Efficacy Specialist Support Service, an external specialist psychological support and treatment provider.
If you have read the Inquiry report, you may feel the desire to comment, to provide an opinion or views however, we the Federation echo BTP's advice that you should refrain from posting anything about this report on social media. The Force has issued a short public statement and we are all mindful of the fact there are two further volumes still to be published by the Inquiry. BTP Federation does not intend to make a public statement until the inquiry has concluded and the full recommendations are known.
I suspect many of you will also be aware of the news regarding the conviction of a West Mercia Police officer for manslaughter. This has obviously raised concerns regarding the use of Taser and the impact Taser can have when deployed. I am not going to comment on the case itself, but I would like to say that if you are Taser trained and you deploy your Taser as per your training then you will be supported by this Federation. This Federation supports BTP officers carrying Taser; we believe it is the best tool an officer can carry on their belt. We understand it's not part of an officer's PPE and it's not personal issue to every officer for a number of reasons.
BTP has always taken a view that if you want to be trained then they will train you in using Taser. It doesn't mean, however, that Taser will be available every time you are on duty. BTP has a number of Tasers, but they don't have sufficient to issue to every officer trained; obviously, we would invite the Force to obtain more devices and our Chief, being the national lead, will hopefully support such a stance. That said, I would encourage you all regardless of news headlines, social media attacks on policing and various views on the benefits versus the threats of Taser that you all continue to carry Taser where possible. It protects you and it protects others. The statistics show that that the mere presence of a Taser can de-escalate a situation and prevent harm.
Post Incident Procedure
Whilst on Taser and thoughts around lethal and non-lethal methods, this month the Federation ran another Post Incident Procedure (PIP) course for Federation representatives. We now have 13 fully trained and qualified PIP trained Federation representatives across the Force and these officers will be deployed to any post incident procedure where there is a death or serious injury whilst in police contact or any firearms event where a firearm was discharged.
I would like to congratulate those Federation reps who have recently passed this intense course and I look forward to seeing these officers using their new skills to look after our members' welfare and wellbeing during some very traumatic events.
Staying with development opportunities, the Force launched the new Personal Development Review process (PDR) this month. I can hear the groans and moans as I type this. I know experiences of PDR have not always been a pleasant and there has been an element of distrust with the system. However, I am informed this change will make a difference and it will benefit those that want career development. So, what's changed?
The new process is tailored to suit each individual and their unique developmental needs. It can be accessed via BTP One, on your mobile device, and it is simple and straight forward to use. Now I know many are experiencing IT issues and that matter will be addressed separately with the Force but through this new PDR system you will be able to access the Talent Gateway. This is an important part of the new approach and is for all officers and staff who are looking for development and progression.
By completing the Talent Gateway, you will be able to shape your personal development plan allowing the force to shape development opportunities.
By Wednesday 30 June 2021, everyone needs to have logged into MyPDR to allow for your first PDR conversation, to set and agree objectives for the year ahead. You and your line manager will have to ensure you both make time to have this conversation and if you want to enter the Talent Gateway, now is the time to do so.
Not everyone will want this opportunity of personal development, so not everyone will have to enter the Talent Gateway and if you are one of those officers then the new PDR system is a very straight forward. If you have ambitions, desires and want opportunities then please engage fully with the Talent Gateway and hopefully you will see opportunities develop and your desires and ambitions will be met.
You may recollect that I reported on the Police Covenant, a government-led plan to introduce in legislation a legal obligation on Police Forces to look after police officers, retired officers, and their family's wellbeing. It was suggested that non-Home Office forces would not be covered by legislation and that we would be covered by a Memorandum of Understanding.
As reported previously we have challenged this proposal with the assistance of CNC Federation and Defence Police Federation and I am pleased to report that the Home Office has indicated a change in direction allowing all non-Home Office Forces to also be covered by a Covenant that is enshrined in legislation, which is great news. As we have proven on so many occasions you all fulfil the role of Police Officers, you wear the uniform, you face the same risk and threats as Home Office colleagues, and you protect and serve our communities, so you should be included.
I am so pleased the Home Secretary has listened to our views and that Ministers in the Home Office, DFT and many other departments have taken time to consider our thoughts. We now look forward to seeing the final decision in writing confirming our position in legislation.
Joint Central Committee
Coming up in July we have a number of meetings with the Chief Constable. The Joint Central Committee meeting will see the Chief will meet with our selves, the Superintendent's Association and TSSA to discuss concerns that impact on us all. We also have the national Negotiating Meeting where we meet with the DCC, Director of People and Culture, Pensions Manager, and a representative from pay and finances to discuss your terms and conditions. Hopefully, we will have an update on the Police Officer's compendium of terms and conditions. We also have a meeting with the CEO of the BTP Authority. These are all quarterly meetings that have landed in the same month, so hopefully we will have some up to date news to share with you all.
Police Care UK Get Active challenge
Finally, if you haven't already seen the advertisement, Police Care UK is asking people across the country to take part in its second "Get Active Challenge". Police Care UK is the charity for serving and veteran police officers, police staff, volunteers and their families who have suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of policing.
The Get Active Challenge is a chance to move more and boost your wellbeing. It involves committing to one to four weeks activity from walking to swimming, visiting the gym to cycling on your bike between 28 June and 26 July. Please visit the website to get more information and whilst the weather is fine and the nights are lighter think about getting out, getting active and boosting your wellbeing.
Quote of the Month:
"Opportunities don't happen. You create them."