Headlines: December 18th, 2001

The Police Federation, representing 125,000 rank and file officers, is seeking the support of opposition parties and the public to a campaign to halt proposals by Home Secretary David Blunkett for reform of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. The Federation argues that the proposals would result in cuts in overtime pay, sick pay and allowances and lower the standards of policing by recruiting civilians to carry out work now done by police officers.The reform plans call for the police to work more flexibly and they include the prospect of special bonuses to reward priority staff, including beat officers, and one-off payments for particularly unpleasant work. The Police Federation claims that the reforms will result in the average officer being worse off financially. There is particular concern that because overtime would only be paid after an officer has worked 42 hours in a week, payments overall would be cut.

Because of the high levels of sick leave in some forces there are proposals to bring those at the top end of the league table closer to the average. The federation claims that a one-rule-for-all on the number of sick days allowed each year unfairly penalises officers working in high-pressure inner city environments.

Plans to extend the ‘police family’ by introducing community support officers who would have power of arrest under certain circumstances and working in collaboration with private security firms are opposed by many officers. There is also opposition to recruiting civilian staff to take on many tasks currently performed by police officers day and night, such as processing people who have been arrested.

The deadline for reaching agreement on those proposals which do not require a change in legislation is 27 December.