4 February 2019
Leicestershire Police Federation workplace representative Kev Marsh has welcomed the fact that this year’s national roads police conference had a central theme of officer welfare.
Kev was one of three Leicestershire officers at this year’s Federation organised conference which was held in Hinckley last week and, in addition to his Federation work, has been a family liaison officer for 13 years, a role in which he is committed to the welfare of victims but also the wellbeing of officers and staff.
But he says the pressures on policing brought about by Government cuts are having a detrimental effect on officers.
He explains: “I have been fortunate to have worked with permanent partners and crew mates and it is fair to say that in those years you can get to know your work partner very well, you will share memories and stories but you also have someone to bounce your ideas to and from in conversation. Your work partner can be there for you when you are having a bad day or week, ultimately looking after your welfare.
“But in the current climate of having to do more work with less staff, leading to an increasing workload, extended hours and travelling and, more often than not, being single-crewed who is going to be there to keep an eye on you?
“Who is going to be there to share thoughts with? Who is going to be there just to have a conversation? Welfare is now going something you have to look at yourself and for each individual to consider on a day to day basis.”
Kev welcomed a conference speech by Dr Paul Jackson, a chartered psychologist in the Transport Safety and Behaviour Group at TRL who specialises in driver impairment, which looked at stress and fatigue and highlighted these issues within the police service.
“Without welfare support in place, could Leicestershire Police be soon seeing an increase in both of these?” Kev asked.
The conference included an update from Tim Rogers, the Federation’s national response driving lead, on the private members' bill seeking to give better legal protection to police drivers since they can still find themselves facing discipline and criminal proceedings for simply doing their job with the training they have been given since, under current legislation, they are judged against the standard of the careful and competent driver.
“Our officers will place themselves in situations where they drive in pursuits which are, and have always been, inherently dangerous and the message I want to get across is please just remember to drive within your skillset, drive in line with the training that you have received and don’t place yourself in a position where your driving could come under so much scrutiny that you are looking at being prosecuted for serious offences,” Kev warned.
And he concluded: “In summary, this was a conference with great speakers telling us all of humbling experiences but also highlighting a sense of frustration that issues that are close to the police family are progressing slowly, potentially leaving officers at risk and at a moral dilemma.”
Kev was joined at conference by Leicestershire Police Federation chair Dave Stokes who also expressed concerns about how officers carry out their duties and seeking to protect their communities, often found themselves subject to ‘cruel’ investigations.
“The conference was well put together and we heard from some great speakers but overall it left me feeling frustrated, knowing that sometimes colleagues throughout the country are treated terribly,” said Dave.
The third Leicestershire officer at the conference, who was sponsored to attend by the Federation, was PC Ian Brown who has 28 years’ service under his belt having working on the armed response vehicle and in the Roads Policing Unit. He now specialises as a forensic collision investigator.
Ian said after the two-day conference: “I learned how valuable our skills could be, following a police collision, where there is an IOPC interest.”