Author Archives: Paul Budd

Response Drivers Bill

Support is building for a change in law so that emergency response drivers engaged in trained driver tactics will be better protected.

Far too many emergency response drivers have found themselves accused of driving carelessly or dangerously when they have simply been doing their job. This will be addressed in Parliament when Sir Henry Bellingham MP puts forward a Ten-Minute Rule Bill which could lead to the introduction of an exemption for police and other emergency service workers.

These drivers currently find themselves judged by the standards of a careful and competent driver, with no recognition given to the trained standards and driver tactics to which they have been trained.

Mr Bellingham, who is Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, said: “For some time now I have been very concerned about how a number of highly professional police officers have been hounded and had their lives turned upside down as a result of unfortunate accidents involving vehicles being pursued by the police. In none of these cases was the accident in question caused by the police officers, but rather by the irresponsible driving of the driver being pursued.

“Indeed, there have been cases where the police officer behaved professionally, correctly and very much in line with their specific driver training. Nevertheless, officers have been investigated and charged, with neither the CPS nor Courts being able to take into account their far greater level of driver training and expertise.”

The Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill is not designed to enable irresponsible driving, only to apply a degree of common sense and pragmatism so that investigations can be dealt with expeditiously and officers are allowed to go back to work as quickly as possible. It is expected to receive cross-party support when it is introduced to the House by Mr Bellingham after questions and statements on Tuesday 19 December 2017.

The draft for the Bill backs the Federation’s view that the existing law is piecemeal, impractical and unworkable.

Tim Rogers, Lead on Pursuits for the Federation said: “We have made great strides forward in recent months and are grateful to Sir Henry for pursuing this in Parliament on our behalf. But whilst we hope this will gain the necessary support to safely progress through Parliament, we cannot assume this will be the case. Therefore, Federations throughout England and Wales are lobbying their local MPs to support our calls for emergency response drivers to be afforded the legal protection they deserve.

“I have witnessed police officers and their families go through unimaginable turmoil for years, through no fault of their own. The training to which they exercise their duties should be given due recognition – we must better protect those who we all rely on.”

A separate Private Members Bill by MP Chris Bryant to protect emergency service workers from assault is currently progressing through Parliament, having enjoyed cross party support.

Detectives’ morale hits rock bottom

Police leaders and government must do more to tackle a seemingly unstoppable crisis in detective policing as morale hits rock bottom.

That was the message from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) as findings from its national detectives’ survey showed workload, fatigue and stress was on the rise.

The findings were released on day one of its annual National Detectives Forum that sees practitioners gather to discuss the issues faced by those in this specialist role.

Over half (56 per cent) of the 7,803 respondents, the largest number of respondents since the survey began, said that service cuts have had a huge impact on their morale whilst over a quarter of detectives felt their physical and mental health had been affected. Half of respondents also said cuts had led to a substantial increase in fatigue (53 per cent) and stress (49 per cent) as they battled to keep up with demand.

A staggering nine out of ten of respondents who had taken sickness absence due to their mental health and wellbeing said that the difficulties they experienced were caused, or exacerbated, by work.

Karen Stephens, Secretary of the Police Federation National Detective Forum, said: “The facts speak for themselves. These results clearly show that detectives are overwhelmed with increased pressures brought on by a lack of resources. Morale is low, people are exhausted and there is little sign of improvements to come if things stay the way they are.”

Over three quarters (76 per cent) of those surveyed said their workload had increased in the last year and the same proportion admitted to workloads being too high over the last 12 months. 73 per cent of officers felt that they were not able to provide the service victims needed most or all of the time.

Mrs Stephens said: “The single aim of every officer, detectives included, is to protect and help others. But what these results show is that despite their best efforts, the demands of the role do not allow them to do this. This is further emphasised with over half of the respondents saying they did not even have time to stay up to date with the latest training.”

Work life balance was also an issue with four out of five respondents saying their work as a detective had kept them away from their family and friends. Over two thirds (71 per cent) admitted to experiencing difficulties in booking time off or taking annual leave.

Mrs Stephens added: “Being a detective was always a sought after, desirable role. However this survey shows things have changed and not for the better. There are serious shortcomings that need to be addressed. chief officers, the College of Policing and Government need to sit up and listen. They have already been told by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) when they stated that there was a ‘crisis in detectives’ and now people doing the job are telling them in their thousands. If we continue to fail the men and women who work in these roles then we ultimately fail the victims we aim to protect.”

National Detectives Survey 2017 Headline Report.

Link

This year will be the 9th local Police Memorial Day service and it will be taking place in Weston-super-Mare thanks to the hard work of a number of individuals, but particularly Sergeant Neil Goodwin who will be retiring himself this year.

The service will take place at Clarence Park Baptist Church, Walliscote Road, W-s-M on Sunday 24th September 2017, and you need to be at the church by 2.45pm for the service between 3pm – 4pm. Refreshments will follow and the the Police Choir, Mace Escort and Fire Service contingent will again be supporting this event. The service is honored to be joined once again by families of fallen officers and we aim to have a good congregation supporting them as the event is open to families and friends of officers and staff.

The National Police Memorial Day aims to, remember police officers who have been killed or died on duty, demonstrate to relatives, friends and colleagues of fallen officers that their sacrifice is not forgotten and recognise annually the dedication to duty and courage displayed by police officers.

Please indicate whether you are able to attend (to help with catering purposes) by emailing info@avsomfed.org

As in the past it has been good to see so many retired officers at the event supporting their serving colleagues and families.

In a year that has been difficult for the policing family, with too many names being added to the roll of honour, come and join use in paying your respects to those who are no longer with us and supporting those families that have lost a loved one.

Flint House is for you!

Since the start of this year we have recorded 171 assaults against officers, a rate of almost 45 a month. The situation is unnaceptable by any standard with some assaults resulting in significant injury to officers.

It is useful that we now receive information through the ‘7 point plan’ not available to us previously, but it has also highlighted another issue. Many officers are not members of the Group Insurance Scheme or Flint House both of which have something to offer injured and recovering officers.

The ramifications of an assault cannot be understimated. As well as mental and emotional concerns that officers can carry the worst cases could result in an officer being considered for medical retirement. Our Occupational Health Department offer first class assistance but in addition those officers who donate to Flint House are able to make use of its first-class facilities. Located in Goring-on-Thames the mission of the centre is “to provide the highest standards of individually planned, intensive, rehabilitation services for sick and injured, serving and retired police officers”. They support officers injured on or off duty.

I have yet to meet anyone that has attended that does not speak highly of the care, treatment and support they received. In some cases it is the reason they have been able to continue serving rather than be retired. Those that donate can usually be admitted within 3 weeks for a 10 day stay at what is the equivalent of a ‘5 Star Country Hotel’ with medical and care facilities.

Flint House however is a charity only available to serving police officers who donate to it (and retired officers who donated prior to retirement). The centre relies on these donations to sustain the treatments it offers against increased demand. The cost monthly to serving officers is £9.21, but a stay for those that don’t donate is around £1200 for 10 days. Like any insurance policy, you don’t know how good it is until you need it. When you do need it make sure its there for you by starting to contribute now.

Find out more about Flint House here, or better still speak to a colleague that has been and get a first hand account of what it can do for you.

To join please complete a deduction form and return it to our office and we will arrange for your deductions to commence from your pay.

Some parting thoughts on my retirement

After 30 years as a serving police officer I retire today and hand over the duties of our local federation to my successor, Alan Bell.

I have seen a lot of change in policing over 30 years, much of it over the last 10 years and not all of it for the better. The increased reliance on the police service for all that ails society is beyond compare to the time when I joined. The added pressures are having a significant impact on the well-being of officers and staff which must not be underestimated. There is a fine line between scrutiny of the service and the undermining of it. Police officers must be trusted to make decisions and cannot be expected to second guess everything they do because quite frankly policing is not an exact science. I remain more circumspect of the media and their ‘arm chair critics’ by knowing the only people who really understand our vocation are those that have done it and continue to do it!

The very nature of policing means that you cannot be expected get it right all of the time as you can only be expected do your best. Over thirty years I have not worked alongside any officer or member of staff that hasn’t been dedicated to doing their best for our communities.

I have been proud to serve as a police officer and to have been elected a federation representative and to serve you. The role of a rep in looking out for the very people that deliver policing is vital to their continued well-being and is not a role to be taken lightly. Despite unjust criticism of the Federation on occasion officers continue to become ‘fed reps’ and selflessly give of their time alongside their policing duties. With federation elections next year I would encourage serving officers to step forward and consider giving the role a chance by becoming a rep. themselves. I leave our local federation in the hands of dedicated and supportive individuals that will do their best for you on a daily basis.

As for me I will continue to support policing following my retirement appreciative of the fact that you continue to do a job like no other, a fact I’ll tell anyone else prepared to listen