90 days from today is Wed, 23 October 2024

Hertfordshire Police Federation

Our views have been taken into account

21 May 2020

As we continue to respond to the coronavirus crisis, I believe the Force has done a good job of both considering officer welfare and maintaining a high level of service to the communities we serve.

Senior leaders have not just listened to the views of the Federation but have sought out my opinions and those of your branch secretary, Al Wollaston, taken account of those views and often acted on our suggestions.

Up until very recently, we have sat in on daily Bronze, Silver and Gold Groups, as well as the BCH Gold. These meetings have been scaled back in the last couple of weeks but still take up a lot of our time. We have also been in local, regional and national Federation meetings via Skype and Teams.

As we move in to the next phase of this crisis, we are involved in the recovery group which Superintendent Sue Jameson leads. As always, officer safety will be at the forefront of our contributions.

As a reassurance to you all, it is worth noting that police officer sickness levels are currently lower than they are usually. Normally, they are around four per cent. Officer sickness did double at the peak of this crisis but has come down steadily since then. The Force had forecast much higher sickness levels, hence the annual leave embargo and plans for 12-hour shifts being muted. Fortunately, we did not get to those levels despite most officers remaining on the front-line and coming to work as normal while the vast majority of people were on lockdown in their homes.

These sickness levels are in line with other forces which I find reassuring given what we are see in the news although, of course, the demographic of police forces is different from the rest of the country’s workforce, with most officers being below the age of 60.

When the recovery plan comes into play, we will be monitoring these sickness rates closely, as I know the Force will, to prevent these rates going up.

While we have been focussed on the pandemic, the Federation has also been extremely busy with other matters too. Conduct cases have continued and Paul Coxall, our discipline lead, and Danny Howe, equality lead, have taken on most of the new cases that have come in.

The office at Headquarters has been staffed throughout this period, with at least one of the full-time officials and either Jane Getting or Pauline Swain from our support team in at any one time.

There have been numerous daily meetings, a high number of individual members’ issues and also very sad incidents to deal with.

As I write this, we are in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Week so I would just like to end with a reminder that the Federation is here to help should you feel your mental health is suffering at this time. We can help you access a wide range of support and would urge you to get in touch if you feel you – or a colleague – is struggling. No one needs suffer in silence.

Finally, I would like to put on record my thanks to all members for rising to the challenges of policing at this time. In the finest traditions of policing, you have all pulled together and, despite the risks to your own health and wellbeing and, in turn, the potential risk to your own families, you have done your best to protect the public and support our NHS.