90 days from today is Mon, 28 December 2020

Northamptonshire Police Federation

Chair's key message

30 July 2020

Dear Member


It’s a busy time in the force at the moment, and that is reflected in the work of your Federation and our full time and work-based reps. We are planning a wider bulletin in September but just at the moment there are a number of time-bound and timely issues that I wanted to share with members. I will try to keep it brief. In no particular order:


JNCCs | These are statutory meetings held on LPAs and Commands with clear terms of reference to discuss issues of health and safety and all matters affecting members. Attended by senior officers, Federation representatives and UNISON representatives, these are good vehicles for raising issues of the working environment and practices. North and West LPAs are currently planning their second JNCC of the year, and I am delighted that a Crime/Justice JNCC met today for the first time. These local JNCCs feed into the Force JNCC chaired by the Chief. If you have issues you would like to be raised, please speak to your local work-based rep or one of us in the Federation Office.


ANNUAL LEAVE & QUARANTINE | The Chief Constable took a very sympathetic stance when quarantine was introduced, allowing members to work through quarantine by working from home and not being forced to take AL or TOIL. This stance is being honoured for AL booked abroad in countries affected (like Spain). However, this is being reviewed nationally, and the Chief may well be asked to reconsider this when national guidance is out later in the week, for any new AL abroad, for which the current arrangements may not be repeatable. So please do speak to us if you are about to splash out on flights or a foreign holiday. This is covered in a recent Daily Order this week.


DISCIPLINE CASES | I am indebted to our Fed reps who are Conduct and Discipline trained and who are supporting a large number of colleagues through discipline processes. Clearly, they are each confidential, but common themes crop up and I mention two areas which come to mind. Firstly, social media is an area Northamptonshire Police Federation where vigilance and thought are needed. It is a lens into policing which is positive but can be used against members. Ensure you know the force policy and think how a tweet or Facebook entry might be misinterpreted. Please do not presume that a private social media entry or post will be indemnified from disciplinary action, especially if you can be identified as a police officer. Secondly, BWV saves and recovers far more situations for members than it incriminates them. It can reduce hassle and stress, which is why I cannot work out why there are so many and regular cases where the BWV wasn’t on or recording at the time – especially when there is a force requirement (for stop searches and issue of Op Talla FPNs, for example). I cannot stress this enough.


FAIRNESS CASES & PROMOTION | We are busy helping colleagues with a number of fairness issues and we always try and resolve issues without getting into the formal process. These include Reg 13 processes and unfair treatment/bullying allegations. Another area which has been traditionally controversial and a breeding ground for fairness claims has been that of promotions. We have been doggedly engaging with the Force in order to ensure that these are transparent processes, and the current promotion processes for sergeant, inspector and chief inspector are progressing well. With regards to the Sergeant and Inspector processes, all requirements for temping experience have been removed, meaning that in order to ‘get on’ the process, all that an applicant needs is the qualifying exam, support from the line manager following evidence of the required criteria which leads to a professional discussion where experience, values and what the candidate will bring to the prospective rank are scrutinised, before approving progression to a workbased assessment. As soon as the current sergeant and inspector processes are complete, a second process for sergeants will follow for those 20+ sergeants and constables with OSPRE passes but who could not fulfil the twelve months temping experience, which is now no longer required, thanks to the decision taken by Chief Officers. 


Since SDM we have had too many acting and temporary roles, and at last these are reducing. After the current inspector process, it looks like there will be substantive officers in all inspecting roles. Sergeant roles will still be vacant after the current sergeant process, and we await the reinstated sergeant exam in the autumn to get things moving again. The Federation sits on the Vacancy Panel, chaired by ACC Andronov and we share a desire to reduce acting/temporary ranks, and review a history of acting and temping which have sat outside force policies (mostly for good reasons, but which now need reviewing). I am truly far more confident in the transparency of our processes than I have been for many years, and the Chief Constable has been absolutely frank and up-front in what he is looking for (and what he is not looking for) in our leadership.


DUTIES & DISRUPTION | You don’t need me to tell you how disrupted our lives have become as a result of Op Talla and constantly changing rules and commitments. I have regularly lobbied the Force for different ways of thinking how we can free up your DMS so you have as much opportunity to take your AL and TOIL without being hampered by that annoying symbol that says you cannot book time off. I have suggested the possibility of a paid on-call capability for volunteer officers and this is being scoped out. I am sending you a separate email about this – feel free to comment. If it ‘floats’ it may assist everyone. If it is not attractive to you, or a number of you, to make it viable, we stick to the status quo.


GROUP INSURANCE SCHEME | I cannot stress how valuable the scheme is to our members, especially to those who are not eligible for Federation funding for off-duty incidents, and who then rely on the Group Insurance Scheme Legal cover which does provide the cover. In addition, there is generous travel insurance (valuable at a time when EHIC is withdrawn as we leave the EU), mobile phone insurance, access to GP24, motor breakdown cover, etc. It is open to serving officers and police staff, and I know by reviewing my own insurances, by rationalising what I was paying for elsewhere, the premiums have been covered in the savings I have made. If you need more information, please do contact Amanda Salt in the Federation Office.


AND FINALLY, I am providing weekly, and sometimes daily updates for the Federation Council (made up of your work-based representatives) – so please always contact them or any of us listed elsewhere in this circulation if you have any questions or issues for us. I take the opportunity of thanking them, and our valued office staff for all they do. As I say, there will be a wider expose of what we do for you, in September, but there is much going on as we do our best to represent you, influence decisions which affect you and negotiate on your behalf.


Best wishes
Sam
SAM DOBBS
Chair | Northamptonshire Police Federation