Category Archives: Local News

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

Pensions Update

Following our response yesterday to the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the judges’ and firefighters’ cases, and having had the opportunity to digest the ruling in full, National Secretary Alex Duncan said: “The judgement handed down yesterday is both lengthy and complex, but nonetheless, a positive outcome for those engaged in the process.  The difficulty is determining what a positive outcome means for our members and those officers engaged with Leigh Day solicitors. 

"Furthermore, within the ruling, there is reference made to other rulings which have been decided upon since we obtained our initial legal advice on whether to challenge the pension changes some five years ago.  There have been previous requests for our legal advice to be shared publicly, however our view has been that it could be unhelpful to those engaged in the current challenge and could, at any stage, undermine their position or our own.

“We have always closely monitored the developments within the cases lodged by the judges, firefighters and our colleagues represented by Leigh Day and at every stage we have stated that we would review our position dependent on developments.  As a result of yesterday’s Court of Appeal ruling, we have made the decision that the PFEW will be obtaining further legal advice, which will incorporate a thorough review of our previous advice, including this recent ruling and arguments put forward within the Court of Appeal.  It will also include advice from our pensions specialists, allowing us to better understand what this means for members and how best to represent them moving forward.

“We anticipate that this review will be completed early in 2019, at which point we will be better informed to be able to decide on what the next steps should be.”

End of Tri-Force

The joint agreement with Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Constabularies Specialist Operations will be finishing in Spring 2019. For the past few years, we have collaborated with those Forces sharing the deployment, training and certain aspects of control with firearms, roads policing and dogs. It was hoped it would bring cost savings to the respective forces at a time when the Comprehensive Spending Review demanded cuts in policing.

Concerns were raised from the beginning by the Respective Federations and each has been working tirelessly to assist each of the Forces in attempting to resolve the concerns which were raised. Some cost savings were achieved but we felt it struggled with supporting its officers in a number of different aspects such as excessive hours, continually backfilling vacancies in the other Forces and a haphazard approach to HR functions. Over the past few years a number of different reviews and a considerable amount of work has been completed in trying to move the collaboration forward, but this has proved to be a task too far for some.

During the past few months’ notice to terminate the existing agreement was given and there was a real desire to agree a new “Host Force” Collaboration. Such a move was always supported by Avon and Somerset Federation, which it hoped would bring greater protection of the officers and enhanced well-being with support from certain business areas, such as a single Resource Unit and working practices.

It is now apparent that an agreement cannot be reached and as such we support the decision to restore the Specialist Operations solely back to the communities of Avon and Somerset. Andy Roebuck, Avon and Somerset Chair, who had spent a number of years on Specialist Operations and Tri- Force said, “We have always supported such collaborations, as we felt there was a benefit to our communities and to the staff. However, since its inauguration we have been met with a number of concerns and a lack in ability to resolve a magnitude of staff worries. This impacted on the ability of officers being deployed in the Avon and Somerset areas. We agree that Avon and Somerset Constabulary has attempted to push this collaboration forward, but we are now left supporting the decision that has been made. We will work with the Constabulary to ensure the staff are returned to their respective business areas in a fair and proportionate way”.

Know Your Rights

As part of the national Chair’s commitment to supporting members, a new national campaign is being launched to raise awareness of the entitlements officers can claim as part of their role.

Did You Know? will go live on Wednesday 21 November and will focus on a key theme every month based on what you, our members, want to know. The idea for the campaign originated from the national chair’s election campaign and has been developed further following input from the wider national council.

Please note the link will not work until 21 November but in the meantime you can use the Frequently Asked Questions on our website to assist you with your questions or please make contact with the office on 01278 647085.

The first monthly focus is going to be on annual leave.

As a Police Officer you governed by Police Regulations which are rights and entitlements enshrined in law, it is important that you understand them and insist on them.

Potholes More Important Than Policing

The contempt the Government has for police officers is clear as the Chancellor prioritises pot holes over police officers.

There was no new money announced for frontline policing with the only reference to the service being a £160m investment to maintain specialist counter terrorism provision – less than half of the £420m the Government has allocated to deal with pot holes.

Mr Apter said: “This is just another example of the contempt in which the Government holds police officers. What does it say when a Government prioritises pot holes over policing?

“This budget was the perfect opportunity to address the overwhelming issues facing the police service in England and Wales – but hard-working officers on the street have been ignored once again.

“We welcome the investment in counter terrorism capability but given the threat level this country is facing it is a necessity dressed up as a gift. And the very minimum which is required with more than 700 live counter terrorism investigations.

“What about my colleagues who work on neighbourhood policing teams, the response officers who answer the public’s 999 calls and the CID investigators securing convictions of those who terrorise our societies. There was nothing for them.

“I am angry and disappointed, but I can’t say I am shocked. This level of disdain is what has come to symbolise this Government,” he said.

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered this third budget which will be the last one before the UK exits the European Union in March next year.

The key announcements included:

  • Confirmation of an extra £20.5bn for the NHS over the next five years
  • £2bn-a-year investment into mental health services part of which will be used to fund a fleet of dedicated mental health ambulances
  • An extra £1bn for armed forces, for cyber-capabilities and the UK’s new nuclear submarine programme
  • £900m in business rates relief for small businesses and £650m to rejuvenate high streets
  • Extra £500m for preparations for leaving the EU

Mr Apter continued: “All public services have felt the effects of austerity and the proposed investment in mental health services will go some way to easing the pressure on frontline police officers by proxy.

“But the chancellor has failed to directly address the multitude of problems facing the police service which could be immediately eased by proper and prompt investment.”

Last week the Home Affairs Select Committee published a damning report into the state of policing which was highly critical of the Home Office and its management of the police service.

Mr Apter said: “I was hopeful that the HASC report would have served as a wake-up call for the Prime Minster and her cabinet and be the catalyst which would galvanise them into action – but no.

“In her keynote speech at her party conference Theresa May announced that the end of austerity had come a claim repeated by Mr Hammond today.

“Well it certainly doesn’t look that way to me or my members some of whom are having to rely on charity to make ends meet, others who are suffering mental ill heath caused by the stress of the massive workloads they are carrying, or who are put at risk every day because the numbers on their teams have been decimated.

“What the police service needed was a lifeline and we needed it today. The Government are jeopardising the safety of the public who they have a duty to protect and I am appalled by their attitude,” Mr Apter concluded.

The Chancellor said that the Home Secretary will make an announcement on the Police Funding Settlement for the next financial year in December.

The Prime Minster, the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister have all previously suggested that the issue of police spending will be addressed in the Comprehensive Spending Review which is expected to take place in spring next year.

Avon and Somerset Winner at National Federation Awards

A former Avon and Somerset detective based in North East Investigations, has won the overall Regional Recognition Award for making an outstanding contribution to detective policing at the Police Federation National Detective’s forum in Manchester on the 11th October 2018.

Former Detective Constable Chris Williams was nominated for her work in child protection as well as exemplary work with victims during her 37-year police career. She retired in August but plans to return to Avon and Somerset as a member of police staff, working as a major crime investigating officer.

Her achievement follows her success at the prestigious BAWP (British Association for Women in Policing) awards event held in Coventry in June. She finished runner-up in the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Performance and Inspirational Woman category.

The Police Federation Awards recognises the very best of detective policing throughout England and Wales and forms part of a two-day seminar for detective Representatives, organised by the National Detectives’ Forum. Chris was awarded the overall Regional Recognition Award from a shortlist of impressive regional winners drawn from throughout England and Wales. She was recognised for “her unrelenting passion and dedication to safeguard children from abuse. She has given vulnerable victims the confidence and courage to speak out.”

Det Supt Marie Wright of Avon and Somerset Investigations, said: “I am so thrilled that Chris has won this award. She is one of the most dedicated child protection detectives that I have known and her 37 years’ service is an indication of her commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in our community.

“Chris is a true professional and has always put the victim first, ensuring that they have a voice. She works with them to achieve what they want at what is often the most terrible time of their life.

“Chris remained as enthusiastic and motivated as she was when she joined the police. She has mentored and developed a number of colleagues over the years and has a great working relationship with our key partners.

“She has been a credit to my team and Avon and Somerset Police and winning this prestige national award from the Police Federation is duly deserved. If I was a victim of crime I would want Chris to work with me in her unique way – sensitive, caring and professional. That’s Chris!”

Andy Roebuck, Federation Council Chair, said: “This is a great honour for Chris and for Avon and Somerset Police. Her dedicated and professional work spanning 37 years is a real credit to her and demonstrates the inspirational role she has with her colleagues.

“Chris has moved through so many changes in detective career and her ability to adapt, remain enthusiastic and focused on the victim is a real credit to her as a detective. This is well-deserved and something that Chris and her family should be extremely proud of.”