Officer cleared of any wrongdoing at Gross Misconduct Hearing

PC Claire Boddie appeared before a Gross Misconduct Hearing for failing to warn an Individual before drawing and using a Taser. She was cleared of any wrong doing on all counts.

The outcome today ends 18 months of uncertainty for Claire her family and friends. Police Officers are accountable for their decisions and expect there will be occasions when they will come under scrutiny. Too often the scrutiny is with the benefit of hindsight against a backdrop of a blame culture. Claire has had been subjected to a criminal investigation and trial where she was acquitted. As soon as that process finished, the IOPC announced she was still to face a Gross Misconduct hearing based on the same evidence. The Constabulary agreed, and these proceedings took place. Claire is relieved that the Panel decided that she had no case to answer.

Claire has been subject to negative comments on social media, her photograph displayed in the local press and individuals saw fit to put up pictures of the incident across Bristol clearly intent on undermining race relations with the Police. Race never played a part in this incident by Claire or the other Officer and we are disappointed it was made a key component by some outside of these proceedings. This incident could have been resolved in minutes if only the other party had simply given them his name.

The public rightly expect Police Officers to stop and question those they suspect are wanted for criminal offences. Clearly this was a case of mistaken identity and it is important to learn from mistakes. We do not feel a public trial and public Gross Misconduct hearing demonstrates that there was any other intention than to find her accountable for what happened that day.

Claire is also grateful for the support of her colleagues and would like to put this matter behind her so she can continue to serve the community.

Home Office seeks Officer’s views

Dear colleagues,

The Home Office has launched a Review this week giving frontline officers an opportunity to share their ideas on how policing can be improved at a national level. What they choose to do with it is another matter!

The Review is seeking members’ views on – wellbeing, professional development, leadership, and innovation. The aim of the project is to provide recommendations that will influence workforce reform activity nationally. The Review will not address officer pay and resourcing.

Throughout August and September the Home Office has arranged online forums for members to voice their views, via Twitter using #WeCops and through the College of Policing’s POLKA network. Face-to-face activity will commence late October.

The first engagement opportunities relate to wellbeing:

– 20-26 August – on POLKA – questions posted to the Knowledge Bank Community Forum relating to the wellbeing

– 29 August at 9pm – on Twitter – #WeCops discussion on wellbeing

Please note: members will need to sign in to POLKA from their work accounts to engage in this way. Discussions will be hosted on the Knowledge Bank Community Discussion page, accessible after sign in.

More Officers Take Second Jobs

More police officers than ever (7.8%) have taken second jobs according to the headline results of our latest pay and morale survey. This is up from 6.3% of respondents in 2017.

A staggering 44.8% said they worry about the state of their personal finances either every day or almost every day and more than one in nine (11.8%) said they never or almost never have enough money to cover all of their essentials. This is up from 11% last year.

The vast majority of respondents, 87.9%, do not feel fairly paid considering the stresses and strains of their job.

This has never been more relevant after the Government’s recent announcement of a derisory 2% pay increase for police from September, which in real terms amounts to an uplift of just 0.85% – police officer pay has now decreased by around 18% since 2009/10.

More than 27,000 police officers – nearly a quarter of all ranks from constable to chief inspector – took part in our survey which was open between April and May this year.  The findings provide vital evidence to inform our work on pay and conditions.

John Apter, recently elected as national Chair, said: “Although this hardly comes as a surprise, the results make grim reading. Our members are clearly suffering from even worse financial pressures than last year, with some appearing to be in dire straits.

“Our members are under immense pressure to deliver, with dwindling resources and rising crime – particularly violent crime – leading to a demand for our services that has never been higher. All they want is to be adequately paid for the job that they do.

“We know officers are struggling and some have had to resort to food vouchers and other welfare schemes. This clearly cannot be right or acceptable that those employed to keep the public safe cannot make ends meet or put food on tables for their families.

“We have continually warned that policing is on the critical list; Government cuts mean fewer officers – 22,000 since 2010 – and the resulting pressure this puts on our members is immense.”

The survey revealed locally in Avon and Somerset:

  • 79% said they feel financially worse off than they did five years ago
  • 47.6% reported worrying about the state of their personal finances every day or almost every day
  • for the fifth year running there has been an increase in those who were dissatisfied with their basic pay: 74.1% compared with 73.5% last year – this is the highest level since the survey began.
  • 9.4% told us that they had an intention to leave the police service either within the next 2 years or as soon as possible. A further 17.4% of respondents said that they currently do not know what their intentions are with regards to staying in or leaving the police.The highest impact factors being the effect on family and personal life and morale.

Mr Apter added: “In recent weeks we’ve seen thousands of officers deployed from their home forces and diverted to provide mutual aid covering both Donald Trump’s visit and the nerve agent poisonings in Wiltshire.  This entailed countless cancelled leave and rest days.

“And just last month we saw officers honoured at our national Bravery Awards, revealing truly humbling stories as they put their lives on the line. All they want is for their commitment to keeping the public safe to be fairly recognised.”

The survey findings will be used in our submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB, an independent group which advises the government on police pay) to help inform the pay award in 2019.
 

National Chair – John Apter

The new Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales says he is “honoured and humbled” to have been elected to the position.

John Apter, formerly the Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, reacted to this morning’s announcement saying: “I am incredibly proud to be a police officer but what makes it special is the people I work with. Police officers are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. They are the bravest. They are the best.”

He continued: “Today I am honoured and humbled to be elected as their voice. It is an incredible privilege to be named Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales – the first ever to be elected by officers up and down the country.”

Mr Apter was selected ahead of Phill Matthews, PFEW’s Conduct and Performance lead, who had also challenged for the position.

Speaking after the election result Mr Apter set out his aims for his tenure saying: “For far too long police officers have been taken advantage of. Pay and conditions, ‘reform’ of the service, huge budget cuts, and outrageous slurs and media soundbites… The Government has been kicking us for years. There comes a point where we must bite back, that time has come.

And he vowed to take a tough stance when negotiating on behalf of his members saying: “Whilst we must have a relationship with the Home Office, chief officers and the College of Policing, I do not want to be their friend. I will hold them to account to make sure they act in my members best interests. That begins tomorrow when I start my role as National Chair.

“I have a long list of priorities. At the top of the list will always be pay and conditions. Following the contemptible and disgraceful actions of the Government this year over our pay award – and let’s be frank, over the past seven or eight years – we have some significant decisions to make. The disdain and contempt shown to police officers in England and Wales must end.”

He continued: “Officer safety is also key. I will be pushing Government to centrally fund Taser and I will also be putting my full support to getting better protection for police drivers. The legal vulnerability they face for doing what they are trained to do is unacceptable and must end.

“I also want to start the debate on Employment Rights for police officers. It’s important we have a grown up and balanced discussion about what this means – and is it something our members want?
“Other areas I want to focus on include Special Constables joining the Federation, the ongoing wellbeing of colleagues and reviewing the ‘free half hour for the Queen’. I will be making myself as visible as possible, both to members across England and Wales and to local Federations.

“I want to make sure the Police Federation of England and Wales gives local Federations whatever support they need to give the best service they can. Local Federations are the credibility of the organisation: they need more support and I will make sure they get it. I am also aware that the National Federation needs to bolster the confidence of our members. And I intend to be driving that from the centre with tangible actions and not just words.

“So, it will be a busy few months and years ahead. Every day is important, and I am determined to make a difference. We have been shouting about the consequence of cuts to policing for years and have been labelled scaremongers for doing so. We need to be more passionate, persuasive and proactive, and we must take our message to the public, who in the main support policing.

“We are dealing with a Government that has its head firmly buried in the sand when it comes to the impact of cuts to policing. Let’s make them sit up and listen. The hard work starts here. Working together we can achieve so much. For the public we serve, and the police officers we represent.

“Thank you again for having the faith in me to do the job for you,” Mr Apter concluded.

Ability to buy-back pension contributions

Dear Colleague

The Police Pension Schemes and Additional Voluntary Contributions (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2018.

There have been recent changes to the above Regulations and these include:

The buy-back of unpaid family leave

Provisions relating to the Voluntary Exit Scheme (We don’t have this in our Force)

Provisions to the Added Voluntary Contribution Scheme Linked to the Police Pension Scheme 1987.

Buy-Back of Unpaid Family Leave

Following representations from the Federation, pension regulations have been amended, as previously those in the 1987 (PPS) and 2006 (NPPS), could only buy-back periods of unpaid maternity leave and unpaid parental leave for pension purposes. Now the following types of leave are included:

Unpaid Adoption Leave.
Unpaid Ordinary Adoption Support Leave.
Unpaid Additional Adoption Support Leave.
Unpaid Ordinary Maternity Support Leave.
Unpaid additional Maternity Support Leave.

The provisions are retrospective, so they apply if you have taken the above types of unpaid leave on or after 1st September 2014.

If you are in the 2015 CARE scheme, you are already able to buy-back contributions with all of these leave types.

If you do wish to buy-back for pension purposes, you must notify the Police Pension Authority in writing. In this Force, this is Mark Milton. You will be required to pay an amount equal to the amount of pension contributions which would have been paid had the period of unpaid leave not been taken.

As the provisions are retrospective you have up to and including the 21st August 2018 to elect to buy-back.

Unpaid Maternity Support Leave

If you have taken the above and that will predominately be men, then again following representations from the Federation, the Home Office has agreed that if you have taken this type of leave from 3rd April 2011 to 1st September 2014, you can buy-back contributions. Again you must make a written election to the Police Pension Authority and this should be done by 21st August 2018.

Additional Voluntary Contributions

The Police Pension (Additional Voluntary Contributions) Regulations 1991 have been amended to allow for the additional flexibilities available to Members wishing to access their defined contributions pensions. For further information regarding this please read Home Office Circular 7/2016.

Should you wish to buy-back contributions, as well as writing to the Police Pension Authority, I would be grateful if you could contact the Federation Office on 01278 647085, to complete a short questionnaire which will enable us nationally to determine how many people have been affected.