The Police Federation met in Harrogate this week for their North Yorkshire open meeting. (20 Sept 2012)
The Police Federation, although not a Union, represents Police Officers.
Around 250 officers listened to the keynote speakers:-
Mark Botham – North Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman
Tim Madgwick – The Chief Constable of the North Yorkshire Police
Steve Williams – and Chairman elect Police Federation of England & Wales – Mr Steve Williams
The meeting covered many issues around the impact of the changes within the force, many due to spending cuts. North Yorkshire Police are currently on target to save £19 million by 2015.
Mark Botham commented on the changes and described them as “chaotic” and “foolish” with the rank-and-file officers being left feeling “angry and betrayed”.
The police pensions have changed from a final salary system to a career-average scheme, with an increase in average member contributions to 13.7%. The rate currently stands at between 12.25% – 12.5% for PPS members and between 10.1% – 10.75% for NPPS members.
Police pensions were subject to reform in 2006, creating a police pension scheme (PPS) and a new police pension scheme (NPPS). Botham commented that essentially the police work long and pay more, although national Police Federation has said it is “best deal possible” despite some disappointing aspects.
The police pension changes dictated by central government and the Chief Constable could not comment further.
Taser capacity was discussed, being prompted further during the open questions by an Officer from the Craven District. He said there were no taser trained officers in that area. Nationally the Police Federation have called for all operational officers to be given the less-lethal weapon of a taser.
The Chief Constable said that taser training would be expanded although gave no specific timetable.
Working Shift Patterns
The 9 band shift system is not liked by officers or their families. Mark Botham said that 78% had reported an increase in ill health and fatigue and added that the experts on the shift system were the officers themselves.
The Chief Constable said that he recognised the shift system needed to change.
Officer numbers and outsourcing
Mark Botham raised concerns that the number of police officers needed to sustain a North Yorkshire Police force, with staffing numbers similar to those in the late 1970’s.
Mark Botham raised further concerns in using private sector resources such as G4S – which they believe goes against public opinion and has never been part of a public consultation.
A proposal to reduce the dog van fleet as currently 9 vans need replacing. Mark Botham raised concern over the current mileage by a typical dog handler being high and this would not help response times and could increase mileage over a shift..
Chief Constable Madgewick said:
We listen to what people have to say, but we may have to make decisions that you don’t like.
But ultimately there is a hard edge to all this.
Every day I see excellence in the organisation.
Talent will be nurtured and we will move forward together.
Steve Williams from the Police Federation concluded:
The federation has fought “tooth and nail” to stop damaging changes.
We needed to be realistic, although that doesn’t mean we sit back and accept, but some changes are inevitable.
Some changes have gone too far and we urge people to influence those that can make a difference.