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.

PC Keith Palmer

Given the incredibly sad nature of the events that took place in London yesterday which saw PC Keith Palmer lose his life protecting others whilst simply doing his job, I felt it appropriate to share some of the commentary regarding this event.

‘A service left numb following police officer death’

“No words can capture how members of the policing family will feel after today’s horrific events,” Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said.

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the “exceptional bravery” shown by police officers following Wednesday’s terrorist attack which left one officer dead.

An MP has called for a permanent memorial to the police officer who died protecting Parliament in a terror attack that struck at the heart of Britain’s democracy. Police Constable Keith Palmer was one of five people – including the suspect – killed as he tried to intercept a terrorist believed to have driven through crowds on Westminster Bridge before storming the entrance to the Houses of Parliament. PC Palmer, part of the Parliament and Diplomatic Protection Command, was stabbed to death confronting an attacker who had already fatally injured three other people.

Policing is a difficult and dangerous job and there is no doubt in my mind that the public are thankful for those officers who do it every day.

We must also remember the members of the public who lost their lives in this incident and those injured by this terrible act, we wish them all a speedy recovery.

Should you wish you can donate to the Police Dependants’ Trust which provides financial support to injured officers, their families and loved ones when things go wrong.

Our thoughts and prayers and most sincere condolences go out to PC Palmer, his family, friends and colleagues. He will not be forgotten.

Judges’ pensions Employment Tribunal: Implications for Police Officers?

The Employment Tribunal on judges’ pensions has been reported as a victory. But who wins? The ET ruling was on a narrow part of pension legislation, and ruled against a provision that unions across the public sector had fought for. It is possible that the success of this challenge could have unintended consequences to the detriment of some Federated members.

The case was solely about transitional protections, and whether these caused direct discrimination by age, and indirect by gender and ethnicity.

The judge was very clear that he was not ruling on wider public sector pensions’ reform, as this is a matter of public policy.

What are transitional protections?
Transitional protections are a mechanism that was lobbied for by unions – including PFEW – to protect members.
The aim is to ensure those members who cannot remain entirely in “old” schemes, are given special arrangements to help them adjust.

What does the judgement say?
The judgement does not state that either judges only subject to the new scheme (without protection) or in the old scheme have been treated illegally.

It only states that those judges afforded transitional protection have been treated in a way that causes discrimination. In fact, the judge goes further, and states that those with transitional protection have been treated better than they could have been. When considering whether transitional protections were a proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim, the judge considers whether they may have been “excessive” and states that an option might have been to simply follow Hutton’s recommendation that accrued rights under the old scheme be protected. The judges’ schemes both protected old rights and offered transitional protection. (As do the police schemes).

What might be the next steps in this case?
There are a number of things that may happen:

  • The Ministry of Justice may appeal. However, if it does, it will actually be forced to adopt the position the unions initially argued for – i.e. that transitional protections are a good thing.
  • The Ministry may not appeal, and instead seek to remove the unfairness.

There are a number of ways the Ministry might do so:

  • The Ministry could offer all judges the same protection that members with transitional protection get – but that would cost more money from the public purse – possibly an additional £80,000,000 for judges alone. (The same across the public sector would cost billions of pounds).
  • Bearing in mind that the unfairness has been deemed to be insofar as those with transitional protections have been treated better (in the judge’s view) than they might have been, one option may be to remove transitional protections completely.

This would reduce the cost to the public – possibly by £28,000,000.
Unfortunately if this latter course is taken, some members of the pension scheme lose out. Ultimately it would mean no member of the pensions’ scheme will gain from the claimants’ win, in this ET.

What is the PFEW doing?
Nationally and locally we continue to monitor the situation. We believe that transitional protections are a good thing, are deeply disappointed that this case may have consequences that the litigants did not anticipate, and are concerned this may cause pension scheme members to lose money.

We believe it is important that we act in the best interests of as many of our members as possible and that transitional protections offer a better pension for more members.

The ET decision is only binding on the judges, not on any other employers, although it may be referred to in other ET cases.
The judges’ position is different in many respects from the police position. However, it remains to be seen whether – in fighting the one common element of schemes, the transitional protection – the litigants have opened the door to poorer pension provision in the public sector?

Highlight professionalism with Body Worn Video

The roll out of Body Worn Video (BWV) continues and so does the value of it as research has shown a reduction in complaints against Police of 93%.

The Federation strongly support the use of BWV, as it provides a valuable layer of accountability and transparency, whilst showing the professionalism, honesty and integrity shown by officers on a daily basis.

We all know the corrosive nature of any complaint either against ourselves or our colleagues and the detrimental effect of what are often long, drawn out investigations.

BWV gives officers the ability to use their discretion to deal with situations in a way that best suits the public and we have been given assurance by the Chief Constable and the Head of PSD that there will be no ‘fishing trips’ for misconduct.

Today, Friday 2nd December saw the value of BWV footage in providing early resolution to complaints against officers and bringing about a swift decision by the IPCC of no requirement for an investigation.

In one case two officers detained a male who was violent and threatening upon arrest. This was witnessed and a complaint made of excessive force. The footage captured on the BWV quickly exonerated both officers, showing them to have acted reasonably and proportionately in light of the violence they faced.

The other case involved serious injury following Police contact, requiring an automatic IPCC referral. Again the officers, utilising their BWV from the start of the incident, provided investigators with an accurate account of how the incident unfolded and the significant efforts made by officers to help the individual.

We have been given the technology that not only provides unchallengeable evidence, but more importantly offers protection to you and your colleagues against malicious and vexatious complaints.

Your job is difficult, demanding and often dangerous; BWV shows that in high definition, so have confidence in using BWV to highlight your professionalism and switch it on!

Tattooed officers do not affect public confidence

An overwhelming majority of the public say their confidence in a police officer to do their duty would not be affected if they had a visible tattoo.

Eighty-one per cent of respondents surveyed by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) insisted that a visible tattoo would make no difference to their confidence in the officer.

Further to that, 60 per cent of those surveyed say they believe people with visible tattoos should be allowed to join the police force.

It is far more commonplace for people to have tattoos than it ever was and the comments in the survey reflect the fact that it doesn’t undermine public confidence in the service if officers have ink.

What we need to see now is a sensible approach to officers in the service and to potential candidates who want to join the service, otherwise we are missing out on a huge talent pool.
Policies need to be modern and flexible to ensure the public get the best people delivering their policing, being representative of the communities we serve.

The research – which was two-fold and asked views of officers as well as the public – was undertaken earlier in the year because of the inconsistent way national guidance was being interpreted across the country among forces.
The current national guidance states that officers “should not have tattoos which could cause offence. Tattoos are not acceptable if they are particularly prominent, garish, offensive or undermine the dignity and authority of your role.”

We’re not saying we advocate offensive tattoos, or a full face tattoo, but many people have small tattoos on visible parts of their bodies, such as the neck or hands and the survey explored what the issues were and provided evidence to help shape our thinking and the next steps.

The results also found:

  • Nearly 60% of the public who responded said they would feel comfortable in dealing with an officer who has a visible tattoo – slightly higher than they would with doctors or teachers (both 56%)
  • 60% felt that people with visible tattoos should be allowed to join the police force
  • More than half (55%) of officers felt comfortable or very comfortable working with colleagues with visible tattoos
  • 48% of officers surveyed say they have a tattoo, with 17% having a visible tattoo.
  • Many officers also reported that tattoos helped them to relate to the public, diffusing situations and that officers should be judged on their work, rather than tattoos.

The research will now contribute to a national working group which is looking at the issue with a view to drafting guidance to help forces achieve a national stance.

Visible tattoos forms part of the uniform and dress code policy which is currently under review within Avon and Somerset and is due to be discussed further on 15th November

Vince Howard
Chairman