Chief Executive's Update: Working Hard To Raise Our Policing Profile

The settling of the COVID-19 response and overall workload into a more stable routine is allowing us to refocus and catch up on other areas of business as usual. Our programme of MP engagement has continued thanks to the modern communications technology of Zoom and Skype. And once the lockdown is fully lifted I look forward to building upon the useful introductions already made with proper one to one meetings.

The most recent conversation was last week with Conor McGinn MP for St Helens North. As Shadow Security Minster he has a fully informed knowledge of terrorism and he made clear his support for policing generally. Helpfully, he even had prior knowledge of the work of the CNC which resulted in a very constructive discussion.

These conversations have been really useful as I've been able to give MPs an update on the challenges we face. For instance, there's legislative bureaucracy hindering our ability to work collaboratively with other forces with the need to have detailed written Section 22a agreements with all 43 individual policing bodies. So we could do with a little bit of help to bring about change; Specifically, Section 24 of the 1996 Police Act should be amended to include the CNC (It already includes the BTP.)

Much of the MP engagement that we've been doing over the last couple of years has been around our pension battle, so it was nice to give them an overview of the CNC in general too. As well as our core role protecting the Nuclear Industry, they were interested in the support that we afford the UK and what else we can offer. As the fourth largest force, in terms of the numbers of firearms officers in the country, we pack quite a punch for the strategic armed reserves. There's a growing view that our firearms capability is an underused resource which, with a bit more imagination by Government, could usefully fill a wider UK police safeguarding role. Hopefully, the MPs will support us in our pension battle as well as being aware of the broader issues in policing. By the way we expect to get an update on the pensions position when we can meet the BEIS once officials are back at their Departmental desks.

Although Force numbers have stabilised, probably because of the effect of Covid-19 on employment opportunities, members are having to work overtime to ensure that we deliver on the mission. Excessive overtime is not a long-term answer to having sufficient resources, especially if there are hopes for a more expansive role. Eventually it takes a toll on operational efficiency, and on officer and family welfare. We will need to talk more to the Management Team about this in the coming months, including the potential impacts of what is, an ever increasing competitive resourcing market.

Policing is an unpredictable and dangerous job. Last week a police officer in the Irish police service was sadly killed in the line of duty with the officer's own gun following a struggle with a member of the public. Our thoughts remain with the family, friends and colleagues of Colm Horkan. This week reports of a police officer in Reading, rugby tackling a suspected terrorist armed with a knife. These tragic incidents, though rare, are a shocking reminder to the public and colleagues of the bravery police officers show and the dangers they face in performance of their duty. Some of the recent 'protesters' on Britain's high streets scrawling graffiti on statutes, assaulting and shouting police abuse should rethink their values. Policing in this country is to the highest standard, hugely accountable and cannot and should not be compared to policing in other parts of the world.

Once again, a huge thank you for everything you do. Stay well and stay safe.

Gary Thwaite
Chief Executive
Civil Nuclear Police Federation