Christmas and New Year Message from Chief Executive Gary Thwaite
Few would disagree that 2020 is a year that many of us would wave bye-bye to without regret.
It started well enough. I was honoured just before last Christmas to be appointed your Chief Executive Officer but there was no easy settling in period to gradually familiarise myself with the role. Ian Muir has had the same experience, joining me at much the same time as Chairman.
Together we have had our hands full with the usual Federation responsibilities of looking after members' interests and welfare issues. But these matters suddenly became even more complicated by the Coronavirus epidemic. Across the Force our members were all to experience a year of serious challenge to our work and to our commitment to protecting our local communities.
In response we have drawn heavily, upon our professionalism and our mental resilience, to come through a stressful 12 months largely intact. We must be mindful, however, that many colleagues have had a difficult time with family illness and bereavements and our thoughts must go out to them. The Federation is there for them.
During the year we continued to build working relationships with our colleagues in other Police Federations. The issues facing rank and file officers in UK police forces are mostly much the same, differing only in scale. So, it makes sense for us to share information and experiences to secure better outcomes for our members.
And when lobbying is appropriate, we want to be heard, along with our more numerous colleagues' voices, calling for members' concerns to be understood by the public and particularly by Government. We responded to the Justice Department's consultation on tougher sentences for assaults on police officers and, more recently, we protested when the Government included police officers, who are significant key workers on the Covid frontline, in a public service pay freeze.
In October we submitted a crucially important response to the Government pension consultation document. Our campaign to retain the current normal pension age of 60 seemed be becalmed as the need for primary legislation was regularly cited as an obstacle. Yet the inescapable reality remains that AFOs serving beyond 60 is almost physically impossible. Two separate official impact studies on the proposed retirement ages identified potential breaches of discrimination laws on grounds of age, sex and race. Their findings must surely have added to the Government's unease.
The consultation document, however, contained a specific reference to 'primary legislation' to implement new pension proposals across the public service. The reference was duly pointed out by the Federation as also the means of retaining our current pension age.
Next year should be a better year.
First, we have heard nothing from Government to dissuade us that the Government now understands our pensions case fully. To put it mildly, it will be totally unacceptable if there is not a workable solution offered in the Spring.
Secondly, we believe the Chief Constable's 3-year strategy for the CNC has been well received in official quarters. Its ambitious vision offers a more expansive corporate role for the Force, and for our members, job enrichment and a more fulfilling career.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we can all look forward to lining up for our Covid vaccinations.
We will eventually get our working and family lives back to normal. But in the meantime, do not be complacent about the risk of infection.
Enjoy this holiday period with as many of your extended family members as is permissible and let's look with enthusiasm to a very different 2021.