22 December 2022
Christmas and New Year Message for Members from Paul Williams, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation.
Season’s greetings members and I would like to take some time to reflect back on 2022 and also looking forward to new year. It has been another very busy year with much going on locally and nationally.
There have been and remains so many challenges in policing with cost of living and pay being very much on the agenda. So called pay rises are still very much pay cuts with cost of living becoming crippling and serious financial crisis for our members being a very real risk.
We are way behind inflation and have been for some time yet we find ourselves being worked harder, held more accountable and Government expectation to do more with less, for less. Uplift is being sold as an increase in police officer numbers when really it is a sticky plaster on numbers that were initially cut which has left its own issues in managing recruitment, training and abstractions which has placed an incredible burden on existing staff. We are thankfully soon to see light at the end of the tunnel but this has left its scars and on top of this attrition has been coming in rates that I have never witnessed before which is concerning.
Internally there has recently been a huge restructure of policing in Cumbria which has instigated a look at how we manage deployment, shifts, leave and operational support. A lot of this has been done quick time but there are some very positive developments. None of this has come without teething problems as any restructure would but reviews are being conducted and there are mechanisms for feedback which have been used and work well.
In the past few years policing has moved at a very fast pace and it is hard to keep up. Every force is feeling the impact of national issues one of which is the lasting impact of the tragic death of Sarah Everard which has had huge consequences for policing around conduct, misogyny and vetting. A problem in attitudes has certainly been identified and rightly needs to be addressed. There can be no room in policing or any walk of life for misogyny. Those few who have been exposed have caused huge damage to the majority of very hard-working honest police officers and confidence in policing. I am glad to work with PSD on delivering inputs around apsp and having a seat on VAWG to take part in preventing this behaviour.
Assaults on Police and other emergency workers still is on the increase. It is concerning and I am easily angered when I hear about our members being attacked and injured for trying to keep the public safe. It isn’t acceptable at all and I still feel that courts are not taking this seriously enough.
Locally we have had a very challenging year in terms of conduct and the workload seems to be on the increase. The IOPC are scrutinising more and we are very busy in this subject matter. Themes of misconduct has been varied however I would appeal to all that data protection is very important and use of social media. All need to be mindful of the consequences of breaching data. With the increase in work we are looking to improve how we can serve our members going forward. We meet regularly with PSD and we have a good relationship. Long may that continue as we have some very healthy discussions that is helpful. We have also improved on how we present at misconduct meetings and place a lot of hard work in representing to get the best result we can for the member. We have spotted some flaws in how we are made available to the membership more so with post incident processes. To improve this we are looking to implement an on call rota to have more accessible trained Reps on hand. We are also looking at taking on more solicitor firms to increase resilience in legal advice. We will never be perfect but we will always strive to improve.
PFEW nationally has new heads and I can be confident in saying there have been some real improvements in the structure of the national Federation.
Our national Bravery Awards this year were Joseph Tidmarsh and Jamie Long. We were proud to have them join us in London and hope they enjoyed their well-deserved stay. We want to acknowledge the bravery of our Cumbrian members as much as possible and have encouraged more citations be submitted for recognition and reward. In policing it is very typical that the bad overshadows the more frequent good outstanding work our members do daily.
As we walk into 2023 I am under no illusion that we will be heading into existing and further challenges but I will continue with my team to give 100% effort in my role and the members I represent personally will know this. I am confident we have a good team in Cumbria that we are all part of. Our Chief Officer team is very good and receptive to our representations which will help deal with policing demands and membership impact.
I want to wish all of you Cumbria Constabulary a very good Christmas and New Year and extend that to your families. Please stay safe and look after yourselves and each other.