GMP Federation Chair Lee Broadbent blogs on the current reality of policing in the force.
25 July 2022
It’s one year on from Chief Constable Stephen Watson taking on the role in Greater Manchester Police. GMP Federation Chair Lee Broadbent blogs on the current reality of policing in the force.
“Whilst our members are optimistic that we as a force are heading in the right direction and the Chief Officer team have a vision and plan to take us there, they are concerned as to how long it’s going to take to feel/benefit from the results of their hard work and the growing pressures being placed on them to deliver.
“In this regard, morale and burnout amongst the membership remains a real concern.
“Presently, we feel the delivery of the various change programmes running in the force is unsustainable and heavily reliant on the use of overtime and cancelation of rest days. It’s our belief that current day to day demand coupled with the large number of events GMP are required to police outstrips our available resources.
“In 2018 the Press Association submitted FOI requests asking forces how many rest days were owed to their officers. At the time it was widely reported that over 250,000 rest days were owed.
“Whilst GMP did not respond to that request, we have seen an increase in this area and latest figures suggest GMP officers are owed in the region of 33,000 rest days with almost 900 officers being owed 10 or more days.
“I mention this to give you an indication of the pressures our officers are under to deliver safe policing to the communities of Greater Manchester and the sacrifices they are making to ensure GMP return to being a force to be reckoned with.
“I should add, that the demand vs resources issues are not just a GMP phenomenon, I believe the rise in rest days owed will be reflected in most other forces and specifically in the metropolitan areas, but, coupled with our change programmes and pressure of being in special measures I feel our membership will feel this more acutely.
“Whilst our computer system remains a problem, I don’t believe it is impacting as heavily on the morale of our staff. It remains a day to day frustration but its accepted it will be replaced much to the relief of our members.
“From conversations with my membership, the Chief and a lot of the new Chief officer team are viewed positively with regards to the plan and determination to deliver on it. We may have concerns as to the pace of its delivery and the acute pressure this places upon us but many hope the pressures are short lived and more sustainable practices will follow.
“Our membership are fully aligned with the Chief’s vision to reawaken the giant that is GMP. Our members want to be a visible presence in our communities and deterrent/consequence to those who believe our laws do not apply to them.
“Policing on the whole is facing acute recruitment and retention issues and GMP are no different. The pay award will address some of the issues around starting officer pay, but will deepen the pay disparity in other places.
“In the last year (April 21-22) 60% of all our resignations were from officers with Less than two years’ service. This isn’t surprising as these inexperienced officers often make up our front line.
“They are the officers expected to respond to your 999 calls, investigate the bulk of crime, deal with the most vulnerable, deliver on the forces plan and manage to complete a portfolio to evidence their learning to successfully complete their probationary period whilst facing a tsunami of cancelled rest days.
“Interestingly, data from exit interviews suggest that Pay isn’t a key feature on their decision to leave but overall pressure, stress levels and a feeling of being undervalued are.
“Consequently, we have seen an increase in resignations from more experienced officers who do sight pay and pension changes as a decision factor. These officers, often with the greatest skill set and level of experience, are taking advantage of a buoyant employment market and seeing they can earn more money else where with less impact on their family life.
“No Police officer I’ve ever met joins the job to be rich but nor do we expect to be treated poorly, see +20% real term pay cuts and have to worry how we are going to balance the books in what will be the worst cost of living crisis many of us have experienced. No one in society benefits from a poorly paid police service, you only have to look at the Edmund Davies report in the 1970s to see where many in policing feel we are rapidly arriving.
“But what I would say, is that despite some of the issues that remain, policing remains one of the best careers there is in the country. And I truly believe that Greater Manchester Police has the passion and determination to improve… we are only going to get better.”