Category Archives: Local News

Local news and updates from the Chairman of Avon and Somerset Police Federation.

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.

Morale plummets as your job stress grows and pay dwindles

You have told us that your personal morale is continuing to drop, with the way you are treated being the biggest contributor. As demand continues to grow and impact on overstretched police forces, nearly two thirds (60.2%) of you who responded to our 2017 pay and morale survey said your personal morale was low – nearly 5% more than last year. A staggering 85% blamed it on the way police as a whole were treated.

Thank you to those of you who took the time to respond to the survey. The findings have been covered extensively by local and national media, enabling us to send a powerful message to the government and the public. The results will also be used as evidence in our 2018 submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body at the end of the year, as well as providing welfare information for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC), the College of Policing, the Home Office, politicians and other stakeholders to open debate, contribute to consultations and reflect your views on a range of topics.

Our routine arming survey is now closed.

Thank you to those of you who took part in the routine arming survey. The findings will be published towards the end of this month. To find out more about the work we do to support those of you who carry firearms, please visit our national website.

IPCC – Ebrahimi Report

The IPCC released its Part B report on the death of Bijan Ebrahimi. The opinion of its Investigator Mr Simik, is that as a result of the failures of the Organisation, Lee James felt impunity, when he decided to brutally murder Mr Ebrahimi. This is not something we agree with. Lee James had his own reasons and motivations for the brutal murder of Mr Ebrahimi.

The Constabulary has apologised for the failing of its systems and has indeed introduced a number of measures in order to mitigate a future similar incident from happening again. One of its key areas of work is around Leadership. As the Representative body of the rank and file of the Constabulary, whilst accepting there are always area of learning following tragic events, we remain concerned that both the IPCC and Constabulary were quick to apportion blame during this Investigation. Opportunities to learn from the mistakes were delayed whilst the IPCC decided who was to blame and at what level. There were significant Leadership issues running throughout Mr Ebrahimi’s interactions with the Constabulary, yet only Sergeants and Constables were held to account either through Criminal or Gross Misconduct proceedings. These are not the ranks that set the direction or policies of the Constabulary.

The public rightly expects those who have been negligent or have deliberately misconducted themselves to be held to account. In this instance there were a number of Organisational failings where the system did not identify the risk.

The Impossibility of Policing, where officers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, sees Police Officers doing an incredibly difficult job, often under resourced, making difficult decisions armed only on the information they have at the time. Inevitably mistakes will be made. It is the decision whether to learn from those mistakes or simply to lay blame, that will ultimately determine the level of service that is delivered to the Public.

Police Drivers Are Still Vulnerable


Attending our national conference I was dismayed to hear that you still find yourselves vulnerable to potential prosecution whilst engaged in response or pursuit drives.

A campaign led by a member of the Interim National Board is underway to get legislation changed, to ensure that officers who engage in pursuit and response drives can be afforded better protection.

What needs to change, and why?
The current legislation leaves police drivers vulnerable: it is illegal to engage in pursuit or response drives. This is because there are no exemptions in the current legislation that take into account the high level of specialised training officers are given. All driving standards are measured against that of a “competent and careful driver”.
According to the law, ‘dangerous driving’ includes speeding, ignoring traffics signals, or overtaking dangerously. There can also be liability for causing others to drive dangerously.

Officers who have engaged in pursuits or response drivers have, in the past, been charged with dangerous driving, even if no complaints were made, and no one was injured (the outcome is not the matter that should be considered although it almost always is the catalyst).

Police drivers are trained to the College of Policing standard. However this standard is not supported by the current law.

What we are doing about it?
The Police Federation is working to have this changed, and wants appropriate legislative change that reflects the high standard to which Police Officers are trained to be taken into consideration.

Since 2012, work done by the Police Federation of England and Wales helped lead to the Crown Prosecution Service creating the Crown Prosecutors Guidance.

Work continues to bring about a change in legislation to protect officers.

What should you do?

You have a sworn duty to uphold the law and should drive in a way which is lawful and does not contravene the laws of dangerous or careless driving.

You are advised not to undertake any manoeuvre which may well fall outside the standard of the careful and competent non-police driver.

Further advice can be sought via info@avsomfed.org or your local representative.