Blog: Gary Thwaite
Progressing Issues That Matter To Members: Blog From Civil Nuclear Police Federation Chief Executive Gary Thwaite
The CNC has long been a progressive force.
Around 2007 when I first joined the CNC, we were just getting used to patrolling outside the wire. Uniform was white shirts and black ties. We carried a Glock sidearm on our hip, Longarm G36s were unhelpfully locked in the vehicle box and Tasers were just being introduced to the force. Our Pay conditions contained something called a clawback, which always took some explaining to a mortgage advisor!
Fast forward a few years... we progressed through large Firearms uplifts and firearms licences, developed leading Firearms tactics nationally to deal with active shooter scenarios and saw the introduction of AFO fitness standards and AFO training - all under the College of Policing's governance.
As well as a serious uplift in weaponry and training we were recognised as part of the police family with the modernising of our Terms and Conditions with the blessing of Her Majesty's Treasury to give us base pay parity with the rest of the Home Office police service.
Today we access one of the best firearms training facilities in the world, our AFOs are recognised as a key agency in Counter Terrorism, able to deploy Drone & Dynamic search capabilities and acknowledged as an international world leader in Nuclear escorts. Our officers can confidently stand shoulder to shoulder assisting other forces when and where required.
Looking to the future the CNC continues not only to raise the professional capabilities of the Force but the potential of our Force to assist in wider UK policing & infrastructure environment. The Chief Constable's Corporate Strategy, currently being studied by Government, offers the potential scope, (without detriment to our core Nuclear mission), to be deployed in the protection and policing of non-nuclear related infrastructure.
Your Federation sees great merit in a wider remit for the CNC, one that would bring efficiencies and increase security assets available to Government, but also at the same time, bring job enrichment and enhanced career opportunities to our members.
But there are other progressive issues which this Federation would welcome.
The Home Office territorial Police Forces of England & Wales are to enjoy the protection of a Policing Covenant, currently going through Parliament as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Regrettably, the three other national forces, the BTP, the MDP and the CNC are to be covered not by the Westminster legislation but by separate Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).
We have written a joint letter of protest to the Home Secretary about this approach (To be shared on our website). We object to not being included in the more robust primary legislation and are concerned about possible differences in implementation of the Police Covenant by the Home Office and our sponsoring respective Government Departments. We must have complete assurance that all UK police officers will be given the same protection under the Covenant.
Secondly, the fight to retain our current retirement age of 60 remains very much alive. Our message that that CNC AFOs can't physically meet the demands of fitness and weaponry skills and dexterity beyond 60 is still in the Treasury in-tray. In the meantime, it looks as if the mooted introduction of a pension regime change could be delayed further. Considering our current CPS schemes Normal Pension Age is 60, any delay would be very welcome news indeed.
Lastly and still on the progressive theme, the Federation has expressed its support to the Force for the introduction of the body worn video (BWV) project. We're not sure what the holdup up is given that this should be a purely professional operational decision under the employer's duty of care to officers. Experience elsewhere such as the Clapham Common demo and Capitol Hill attack in Washington, is that video provides valuable and often indisputable evidence.
The body-worn camera can refute allegations of assault against officers. Anyone who has been the victim of an unfounded allegation will know the huge personal emotional and family stress a lengthy suspension or temporary redeployment can create before being exonerated. Given that our members are also fully armed they should have all the protection that the BWV would offer. In this modern world we now find ourselves policing, with the anti-establishment brigade directing their frustrations towards police officers, BWV is an absolute must to better protect our members.
Thanks again for all you do and stay safe.
Chief Executive, Civil Nuclear Police Federation