Views on a proposed merger with MDP and BTP
Mark Nelson, Chairman of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, looks at potential plans for an "infrastructure police."
We've seen recently police officers under Operation Temperer, regardless of cap badge, working side by side, collaborating, carrying out a role that is demanding and that requires expertise around firearms.
But is it time for three British wide forces to merge?
For some time now there has been talk in Government circles over plans to merge the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence Police, and the British Transport Police into an 'infrastructure police'.
These plans were even included in the Tory manifesto for the 2017 General Election.
The problem is now that following the result of the General Election - and the Queen's Speech that outlined plans for the coming Parliament - no one seems to know where these plans for an infrastructure police are heading.
Least of all our members.
Just over 12 months ago we in the Federation were told this merger was being looked at and that there was a lot of work being carried out by a specific group in the Home Office on this matter, and we would be kept up to date with it.
There was a series of meetings after that where we - and our sister Police Federations - all attended and were told, at a certain stage, that it was off the table and that the three forces would still be working together on collaboration on areas where we were duplicating work, or duplicating services and training.
So, it went into the long grass and then, lo and behold, it appears in the Tory manifesto, so we're thinking it's back on the table. Talk of changes, mergers and an 'infrastructure police' are going to create anxiety for the people who we represent as a Federation. So, where does this limbo, or lack of direction, leave our hardworking members?
It must be said that we are not against the idea of a merger. Obviously, we would have to look at all the data and everything that comes along with a proposed merger and any proposal, because obviously we wouldn't want it to be detrimental to our members.
We currently have a major issue with our pensions and the being told that officers will have to work until they're 67, 68 before they can retire. Now if we merged with these other forces, that could potentially be addressed, because if we came under the Home Office we could perhaps adopt a Home Office police pension scheme.
It also could address that our force currently has a very small amount of positions available for officers who cannot carry a firearm anymore, so we'd potentially be looking at opportunities being available within the other two organisations, if they had positions officers could fill where they didn't need to carry a firearm.
So, there is lots of potential within the idea of merger - but we need to know is it on the table or is it off the table?
It's not easy for our members to come to work every day when they don't know who they're going to be working for or where they are going to be working in the future. You need a certain amount of certainty.
Our members need to make life decisions around the pensions, about the sustainability of their role within this organisation.
All this lack of direction on a potential merger is doing at the moment is creating confusion amongst Civil Nuclear Constabulary police officers as to what's happening and where the future lies with this force.