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Hertfordshire Police Federation

A critical time for the Force

28 June 2022

I’ve been in this role for a few weeks now and it has become clear that the next six months to a year are going to be critical for policing in Hertfordshire because we are in a very precarious position in terms of recruitment and retention.

There are a number of areas within the Force that are quite obviously struggling to cope with the demands being placed on them and this is putting extra pressure on our members who are having to be moved left, right and centre around the organisation.

Because of the ongoing issues surrounding recruitment, retention and workforce it feels like we are rushing around from area to area just putting out fires and that is of great concern for me.

It is also having a huge impact on Protected Learning Time (PLT) for student officers on a Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) scheme and again it has become quite evident that we are going to face some real problems when it comes to honouring that PLT.

The bottom line is we can’t recruit quickly enough and we can’t retain staff. People are coming into policing and realising how much demand, expectation and responsibility is being placed upon them and they are walking out the door.

I know I keep going on about it but it all comes down to pay.

I see the doctors are after a 30 per cent increase in their wages and the Fire Brigades Union has described a two per cent offer as insulting because its members have had a 12 per cent real terms reduction in pay since 2009.

I’m not going to go up against any other trade unions or our colleagues in the public sector because we are all in a really bad position but the fact is police officers have suffered a 20 per cent reduction. We didn’t get a pay rise last year like everybody else did and we still haven’t got an understanding of what our pay settlement is going to be this year. Inflation is at nine or ten per cent now and we are struggling.

One of the things I have started to do since taking over as chair is phoning people who are leaving the job. I spoke to one officer recently and he told me he can no longer survive on £1,500 a month. He’s a really competent, excellent officer who has just passed his DC’s exams but he is mentally and physically burnt out after three years.

We are finding officers now who after just two or three years are at that exhaustion point and we can't carry on like that.

Something has to change. We are no longer staring down the barrel of a crisis - we are in crisis already and urgent action is needed.

Firstly, I would urge the Chief Constable to increase the South East Allowance to the maximum of £3,000 - that would be an extra £500 for our members - and I would ask him to do that now, not next April. I appreciate there is little more in his gift to financially reward officers, but the £500 will be extra, the previous £500 increase, which was well overdue, was merely swallowed up by the increase in National Insurance contributions.

But the bigger picture involves the Government which really needs to take a look at the disaster that is happening in policing.

We need to start a discussion with the Hertfordshire MPs because ultimately this is going to affect the county’s residents and I want to be open and frank about that but the pressure needs to be on the Government because they need to act now to stop this crisis getting even worse.

The Federation is tired of having to say: “We told you so.”

But for now, I am urging our members to put their health first and to make looking after their wellbeing their top priority, that’s all that matters to me and everything else will have to wait.