23 December 2020
You won’t need me to tell you what a challenging year it’s been.
It started in the worst possible way when we lost one of our colleagues Nick Dumphreys and then a month later we’re all locked down to combat COVID.
There has also been the very topical issue around pensions and claim funding. It’s not appropriate to comment or advise at this stage around this due to complex legal processes that are ongoing. This is frustrating for us and no doubt our membership. I wholly empathise with all of those this is affecting no matter which challenge you are in.
The force had to adopt a new way of policing in the sense of managing staff, working from home policies, and they’ve had to adapt to technology that they had, but didn’t really use.
We had a new way of covering strategic meetings via Microsoft, adopting new policies with occupational health around testing, track and trace and as now as we’re getting ready for the vaccine to be fully rolled out.
It’s been tough for officers and on top of that the Government has been rolling out new and ever developing legislation on a rapid scale.
It means our members have had to learn and adapt and potentially enforce the new legislation and try and get their heads around it themselves before they try and explain it to the Cumbrian public.
There’s been struggles and trials getting the training out and in between all of this we’ve got the uplift. We’ve had to try and carry on recruiting new staff, new starters, and deliver that training and input under social distancing measures.
That’s been about finding the right venues; it’s been about getting all the uniform and body armour, the tutors and training staff because of the numbers that are being recruited at the moment.
That’s still an ongoing struggle, but hopefully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine.
We’ve adapted new working practices and those that have worked well are looking at keeping.
If departments can work from home, why not keep them working from home? Save the carbon footprint, save on fuel and travelling and use the technology that we’ve got. The Constabulary are also looking towards introducing new policies in line with health and safety and occupational health with regards to getting staff set up with the technology to work from home too.
We have worked closely with the Constabulary during this difficult time and have been consulted at all levels. I’m pleased to say we are well ahead of most forces in efficiency around COVID from PPE stocks to introducing new ways of policing, digital leadership and recovery/renewal. We’re sitting in the best place we can be in such a bad situation.
All of us at the Federation are acutely aware of how these are really tough, difficult and worrying times for everyone.
Our workload has increased dramatically this year and we have faced pressures locally and nationally so a business case was granted by Mrs Skeer to elect another full time rep. I am pleased to introduce Paul McMillan to our team and in the main will be dealing with conduct and performance cases. Paul has hit the ground running, he is fully trained in all areas of conduct and performance regs and is already carrying a high caseload but has already produced some very good work for the members and continues to be of a great help to us.
There are a lot of cops out there who have dependents and family that they haven’t seen in a long time, whether that be through work or lockdown and restrictions. The Chief Officers are acutely aware of this and have discussed this at some length, continuing to do so. As we are they are concerned around the members being overworked and restricted over Christmas to an extent that affects us more than it does the public. This concern is highlighted regularly especially with such uncertainty in the coming months around new Tier rules, new strains of COVID and Brexit.
The policing tone and hard work of our members is praiseworthy and we should push our national Board to approach Government and ask for national recognition.
As Federation reps we should never make promises with regards to outcomes of cases or what is around the corner that affects our membership. We cant wave a magic wand and make all good as much as we would like to but there are two promises I always stick to when representing. I will always give 100% effort and I will never lie to you. Those who I have represented through some very trying times will know this is true.
If members can catch up with their family at some point within the rules, then make the most of it. Do it, but do it in a very safe and considerate manner because COVID is still very much there, it’s a killer, and it’s taking lives.
So stay safe, be considerate, and remember the rules.
Thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for the people of Cumbria.