90 days from today is Wed, 30 December 2020
15 January 2020
Two months into his new role as chair of West Midlands Police Federation, Jon Nott has set out his key priorities for the year ahead.
Having been elected to the full-time Federation position while he was working as a detective, his start date in the office was delayed as he was involved in a large-scale trial but he now has his focus fully on what he sees as three main streams of work – issues around officer recruitment and retention with the clear link to pay and conditions, assaults and officer safety and the wellbeing of officers.
Jon is also keen to get out around the Force area to meet members, discuss their concerns and ensure that he can best represent their views.
“Once I landed full-time within the role, I noticed that my diary filled up rather quickly with strategic meetings with the Force and also contact with members. It was helpful that I have been a Fed rep for a while and therefore already knew the staff in the office, who made me feel welcome. During January, I am completing media and Post-Incident Procedure (PIP) training that will help me in my role,” says Jon.
“I also quickly realised that we are not made aware of all assaults on officers through the 10-point plan as we are supposed to as there were some assaults that we are only becoming aware of through the media or direct contact from officers. Unfortunately, this has meant that some officers may not have had the contact or support that we would like to have been able to provide so we have raised this issue through the assaults meeting that we attend with the Force and hope that we will soon be informed of all assaults as should be the case.
“The issue of assaults on officers is one that we will continue to push throughout the year not only with the Force, to ensure a thorough investigation takes place, but also with prosecutors and the courts to ensure that offenders face the correct charges and full sentencing powers are used following conviction.”
The Federation also has concerns over whether the Force will be able to recruit the number of new officers it has been allocated under the first year of the Government’s three-year plan to boost officer numbers nationwide by 20,000.
It has a target of taking on 366 and, while the allocation, which was the second highest in the country behind only the Met, was welcomed it will not take the Force back to the establishment figures pre-budget cuts.
Jon explains: “We now have the uplift in officers planned to join us this year and we wait to see how this takes shape. We have been calling for extra officers for some time now so, of course, we are pleased that we are finally getting a substantial increase in numbers, but we have lost nearly 2,000 officers over the last few years and with those numbers we have lost a considerable amount of experience.
“The new recruits will eventually help officers currently struggling with a high workload that has taken its toll on them, but this is not going to happen overnight. These new officers will have to be tutored and shown the practical side of the role.
“We are also aware that both FCID and PPU have set a level of two new officers per tutor and Response can be up to three per tutor. These tutors will also be tutoring on a permanent basis, taking on the role of a first line supervisor in effect with no extra recognition or reward and they need to be protected from burn-out as it can be an intense process, putting them under pressure at a time when they are already trying to help meet increased demand with reduced resource.
“This links in with the wider issue of officer wellbeing. Officers are currently under pressure with the reduction in numbers meaning there are less to respond to the public demand and we also investigators carrying a far bigger workload. This has an effect on both their physical and emotional health, and we will continue to push the Force to properly support officers who are both off work and those who have remained at work.”
Jon is also monitoring developments around police pensions and will be pushing the Federation’s National Board to ensure the best possible outcome for all officers.