These are without doubt uncomfortable and uncertain times, where anyone working in the Public Sector is facing potential huge cuts in their income and a reduction in the values of their respective Pensions, which will have an affect on them personally, and the service they provide to the public, for many years.
We, the Federated ranks would say that we are being treated mare harshly than any other group of workers within that Public Sector. Is this because we cannot take any form of Industrial Action because it does seem so?
With a few exceptions as regards Pensions, we already pay in contributions, more than most. Have had our Pension Scheme reviewed and amended more than most and only recently also had a New Pension Scheme imposed on new recruits. Yet the scheme is held up by Government as an example of why the Country is in such a financial mess, so are proposing through the Hutton Report, that we pay more in contributions, for longer, for less. What they have failed to take account of is the “special nature” of being a Police Officer, and the risks that go with it daily, for example the risk of assault and injury and on occasion, making the ultimate sacrifice. This unfortunately often means that retiring Officers cannot enjoy retirement to the full for as long as other retired workers. Which despite many fine words on occasions from local and National Politicians, have proved to be empty words that appear to mean nothing in reality. It is deeds that will be remembered, not empty words.
And as for the Governments’ attacks on our pay and conditions via the “Winsor Review”, which the terms of reference stated should be fair to Police Officers and fair to the tax paying public, is more about changing the way Policing is delivered than saving the £500 from Police Officers pockets. And being fair to Police Officers does not seem to have been considered by the Home Office, and certainly wasn’t by the Association of Police Authorities (supported by the Gloucestershire Police Authority) in their submissions. This was made obvious during the Negotiations when an alternative package, that would have made the same saving, (£500m) was tabled, by the Federation, but rejected, by the “Official side” (Home Office, A.C.P.O. and Police Authorities). Why would this be, if the issue is that the cost of the Police wage bill, is the only issue, could it be that the real reason is not just the cost, but to also erode the conditions of Service (Police Regulations) that have protected the work life balance of Police Officers and attempted to correct previous examples of managers abusing Officers. I cannot think of one Police Regulation that was introduced because someone considered that it would be “nice” for the Officers.
The phrase that is used more and more often these days, is that Officers should be more “agile and flexible”, by our leaders and Politicians, particularly rankles with me. Has the Police Service over the years not proved that we can and do show flexibility in how we are managed? Once again, only as recently as last August we were able to move to 12 hour shifts, have our Rest Days cancelled (and if the Home Secretary had her way, A/L cancelled), and travel to other parts of the Country to deliver assistance to colleagues, not one moan, not one Officer saying that this is not why I joined the Service. NO, what is meant is that, “they” want all that, but do not want to have to pay compensation to you for doing it. The compensation being for, working long hours, having Rest Days cancelled, being away from home, and often working in “challenging” and dangerous environments, for long hours. I wonder if it is to enable the Olympics to be delivered next year on the cheap!! And enable it to be even easier to change duties or cancel Rest Days or A/L. All at your expense!!
The Force budget has been severely cut, and as a result savings have to be made. But, it is the implications and consequences of those cuts that worry me. It is proposed that compared to 2008 we will have around 200 less Police Officers to deliver Policing to the communities of Gloucestershire and keep them safe. 200 Officers is more than Police the whole of the Gloucester area or the whole of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury currently. No matter how thin you spread the “butter”, my worry is that we will not be able to do everything that we want or have to do. Something will have to be lost. We have asked our Chief Constable what are we not going to do, and await his response other than at the moment he considers that we will be able continue as we are. I have concerns, but hope he is right, after all, I and my family live in those same communities.
Re Hutton and the Winsor review, we continue to try and impress on Politicians and the people of influence within the County, our concerns for the capability to deliver the quality of Policing the public of the County have become used to, but ask you to now accept that you have an opportunity and a responsibility to speak at your M.P.’s surgeries to them and share your concerns. If you do not, (because I have had it said to me)
they will assume that you agree with the Government and the line taken by them that you can afford to lose potentially £3 to £4 thousand pounds a year from your wage packet, are happy to pay more for your pension, for longer, for less, and are happy to forgo any sort of reasonable work life balance in the future.
Compliments of the Season.
Stay Safe, Be Happy