90 days from today is Thu, 19 September 2024

Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Avon and Somerset Police Federation speaks out against use of ‘divisive’ targeted payments

24 May 2022

Avon and Somerset Police Federation speaks out against use of ‘divisive’ targeted payments to some officers in the force… all police officers deserve more pay.

Since September 2020, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has explored using targeted variable payments (TVP) to deal with what they describe as a lack of accredited national firearms instructors providing training at Black Rock Specialist Training Centre.

The Avon and Somerset branch of the Police Federation of England and Wales in collaboration with Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Federations have consulted with the Black Rock Tri-Force board to resist the use of the payments - and to encourage our respective forces to explore other routes to incentivising qualified officers to provide training at Black Rock.

As a Branch we have encouraged the force to explore less divisive options and to establish the root cause of why there appears to be reticence to apply for trainer vacancies at such an excellent facility. What more could be done to support staff? For example - Flexible working, extending opening hours, providing training at other locations?

To the best of our knowledge none of these options have been tried or even considered.

Sadly, we have been informed this week that the Tri-Force board has now authorised the use of TVP payment in conjunction with other measures to improve the establishment of trainers providing training solely at Black Rock.

Mark Loker, Chair of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, says all police officers deserve more pay.

He said: “This comes at a time where our Officers are having to access food banks just to provide meals for their families or make decisions about whether they can afford to be part of the Police Pension Scheme.  

“It comes at a time when Police Officers, making life or death decisions, not knowing whether they are even going home after their tour of duty concludes, having no meaningful pay rise in over a decade and seeing a real terms pay cut of 20% are having to make decisions whether they should heat their home, fill their cars or fill their bellies.

“It is a disgrace that our Student Officers are paid roughly only 30p more than the national living wage, yet any application to increase their starting wage is met with resistance from our Police and Crime Commissioner.

“Our position remains unchanged that we have not seen sufficient justification for the use of targeted variable payments in this role or circumstance that means this is the only option and not enough work has been done to incentivise the role in other ways, it is a capitulation in our view to carry favour, not resolve an issue.

“The use of targeted variable payments, whilst legitimate and an option in Police Regulations to assist with recruiting and retaining staff in hard to fill roles, we contend are a divisive measure and should only be used as a very last resort.

“To a patrol Officer in the centre of Bristol that should have 16 Officers on their team, yet parading 6 at a push is a hard to fill role. The Officer in a proactive Burglary team that is removed to support another area of our business is a hard to fill role.

“If Avon and Somerset Police are intent on the solution of hard to fill roles being TVP, then we would call on our force to remunerate and incentivise our members in any team that have vacancies or roles equally.

“Our disappointment goes further in that the Federation was initially invited to address the Tri-Force board in November 2021 and we completed work to contact the national firearms instructors and to support the overarching management of such a fine training establishment.

“At that time we advised the board to exercise caution around TVP and that as Black Rock had only recently been granted a full training licence by the College of Policing in September 2021 and that our view (and that of an national eminent expert) the equality impact assessment fell short in detail and there was a lot of work still be done, not at least around the necessity of the provision of TVP to a ‘hard to fill role’.

“Our disappointment grew further when were we not invited to address the reconvened board on 5 May 2022 – instead we were only asked to provide an update which meant we were unable to personally address the board with our continued concerns.

“In our view we were effectively shut out by the Constabulary from properly representing the views of our Membership to the Tri-Force board.

“At the time of writing, we have requested but not received a copy of the full College of Policing review, a copy of a recent survey conducted by Black Rock to explore other options and we are awaiting responses to our observations of the Equality Impact Assessment.

“In the strongest terms - and unequivocally - the Federation supports the increased pay for all our members. This is not about restricting the pay of any of our members, but it is about proper recognition for ALL hard-working Police Officers, many of whom are subjected to assaults, working 24/7, under-resourced, over worked and under paid, not just a select few.

“You would have to go a country mile to find any Officer who feels their role is not hard to fill, but it is the duty and responsibility of the Constabulary to explore innovative and creative ways to increase all Officers pay, morale and conditions and make those so called hard to fill roles desirable for all.”