90 days from today is Wed, 23 October 2024

Sussex Police Federation

Chairs Update Q3 2023

19 October 2023

 

SusPol

 

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

I am writing to you with my quarterly chairs message, updating you on the issues that are affecting our members and the actions we are taking as your Federation.

 

12 hour shifts / Shift Changes / Reg 22 Breaches, Leave Embargos, Deployable Resources, LQC’S, Industrial Rights, Chairs Election, Federation Dinner

 

12 hour shifts / shift changes / Reg 22 Breaches

 

As you will remember from my last message, Officers (PC’s, Sgt’ and Insp if part time) under the Police Regulations must know their shifts 90 days in advance, including both the start and finish times. Anything outside of this MUST be an exigency of duty which equates to anything that is unplanned or unforeseen. Poor planning and establishment decisions are not exigencies of duty.

On 15th February 2023, Sussex Police Federation were forced into taking the unprecedented action of serving a letter before legal action on the force with regards to the number of Reg 22 breaches.

This letter was on the back of constant cancelled rest days and changing of shifts that you, our members, had suffered for a number of years.

The force acted at the time and the cancelled rest days reduced however, this was during a lull in demand and as we saw the demand increase once more, the cancelled rest days were instead replaced with enforced shift changes and 12-hour shifts (still a breach of Reg 22).

On the limited data supplied by the force to Sussex Federation, we can see that there are 1000’s of breaches that have occurred this year alone.

What has become very apparent is that there are not enough officers on response to hit minimum numbers.

In August, ACC Dobinson set up a Gold Group, Op Bourne, to discuss a way forward and to stop the constant breaches. Part of that Gold Group is to look at the reasons why so many breaches occur, how the force can work differently to reduce shift changes and to look to see if the shift pattern is fit for purpose.

We were disappointed to see the blog by DCC McLaren on 22nd September, where he mentions the shift pattern and in particular the regulation pattern (7 on 2 off). We are still at the very early stages of this Gold Group and many of you contacted us believing this was a done deal.  Let me be clear, the regulation pattern does not work for modern day policing and in particular, does not deal with the night-time economy. It is not fit for purpose and is for this reason that NO OTHER FORCE in our region works a regulation shift pattern.

We will keep you up to date with regards to this but our message to the force is clear, getting a sufficient establishment of deployable resources on the front line is the priority, only then should they look at the shift pattern.

We have asked to see tangible change before the next sustained rise in demand which will be Christmas / New Year. We will continue to push in these areas.

 

Leave embargos

 

This has been an area of contention within Sussex for several years. Leave embargos are often introduced well over a year in advance are frequently left in place until the last minute which is unacceptable. Officers are entitled to know what days they are working, their rest days and their start and finish times within 90 days so they can book their leave and plan their private lives accordingly.

When officers are still prohibited from booking leave within a 90-day period, this causes frustration for our members.

We are monitoring this closely and pushing the force to work within the regulations by removing all leave embargos well in advance of the minimum 90 days requirement. You will have seen the restrictions for both OP Peel and Christmas/New Year were lifted earlier than in previous years. This is due to the representations that we are making on your behalf.

It is important going forwards, that for well-known events (Pride, Peel, Christmas and New Year etc) the planning departments are given a deadline of 100 days prior to an event in order to complete the necessary arrangements. This then gives the planning team 10 days to speak to the Gold Commander who can then release the restriction.

We will continue to push in this area and keep you updated.

 

Deployable resources

 

We continue to receive many complaints from our members regarding minimum staffing numbers, where the number of deployable resources is often far below what is expected. Not only can this provide an unsafe working environment for our front-line officers, but often making it unmanageable for our often-overworked supervisors.

We do not dispute that restricted officers provide valuable support, however, front line officers and the public need to know how many deployable resources are available to respond to any unplanned and unforeseen incidents in their community.

We will continue to call for Chief officers to provide open and transparent information to our members, that clearly indicate the actual number of deployable resources on every shift, separately from the number of officers restricted to a supporting role.

 

LQC’s

 

Legally Qualified Chairs were introduced under changes to the Police (Conduct) Regulations made in 2015, to replace senior police officers as the chairs of misconduct panels to make the process more transparent, independent, and fairer. Legally Qualified Chairs (LQC’s) are individuals who remain independent of the police in order to provide fair and impartial oversight of these hearings.

 

Under the new rules being drawn up by the Government, Chief Officers will be put back in charge of disciplinary panels, removing these LQCs and the independence that came with them. The reforms will also mean that officers who fail to keep their vetting status up to date will be dismissed.

 

Under the current system, the Chief Constable already has the power to dismiss officers under the fast-track system, but the evidence needs to be there. However, if it is disputable, it currently goes to an independent hearing. It would be naive to assume that from now on, public perception and politics will not play a part in these proceedings, and I share in the genuine concerns of my colleagues who fear the consequence of these unnecessary changes.

 

Industrial Rights Ballot Update

 

Following on from the previous chairs message (see here) it is anticipated that the timeframe for the ballot will be early next year, with information being released to our members prior to this to enable them to make an informed decision on whether to ask the Government for Industrial Rights.

As always, we will keep you updated with up-to-date information as and when we receive it.

 

Chairs election

  

For the last 3 years it has been both an honour and a privilege to be your first Chair elect of the Sussex Police Federation. It has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding roles I have undertaken during my 29 years as a police officer. In January 2024, I will be making way for a new Chair to bring their own grit, determination, and enthusiasm to a role that I have put my all in to. I am immensely proud of the new Sussex Federation team and its workplace representatives, who all stand up to the challenges that face our members day in and day out and I know they will continue to do so.

The 3 candidates that have put themselves forward for this role are: -

 

Chairs Election

 

You should receive an email from Mi Voice on 23rd October, this will contain their election statements and the opportunity to vote for your preferred candidate. The election will run for 3 weeks, closing on 9th November and I urge you to vote. If you do not receive an email, please contact the office on admin@sussex.polfed.org. The winning candidate will take up their new post on 29th January 2024.

I wish them all the very best of luck, this is a role like no other and I know whomever the successful candidate is, will rise to the challenge.

 

Federation dinner

 

On 10th November the Sussex Police Federation are hosting our first reward and recognition dinner for our 40 workplace representatives, who all volunteer their time (in addition to their day job) to support their colleagues within Sussex Police. This additional workload of both misconduct and equality matters, as well as general advice, take up their rest days, evenings and other free time, of which we do not take for granted.

For what can sometimes be a thankless task, our solicitors and barristers have recognised this and fully sponsored this event to show theirs and our appreciation for the fantastic work they do. I would like to reassure you that not 1 single penny from our member subscriptions, nor the money we generate has gone into this event.

We will also be raising money for the Sussex Police Charitable Trust on the night via a raffle and I am proud that for the first time, we are finally recognising the hard work and dedication our volunteers show daily.

 

Meet the Team - Federation Representatives

 

We are eager for our members to actively communicate with the Federation Workplace Reps to highlight any ongoing local issues. Each division’s Fed reps hold quarterly meetings with their Command Team to communicate these issues, however, if you don’t tell your local Reps about it, we won’t know about it

To find out who your local reps are, please click here.

 

As always, if you want to talk about anything, please speak to one of your workplace reps (Meet the team), or contact us (office hours), or drop in and see us.

 

Kind regards

Daren Egan

Chair, Sussex Police Federation