Reject calls to make officers redundant, PFEW tells Chiefs

25 October 2015

All Chief Constables in the country have been urged to reject misguided proposals to make police officers redundant.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “While accepting the financial difficulties forces may face if further cuts are imposed through the Comprehensive Spending Review, our view is one of complete dismay and anger that such a blunt and divisive tool as compulsory severance is being considered for use by chief officers.

“The service has seen 17,000 fewer police officers in the last four years, and to make officers redundant would seriously jeopardise the current level of policing that we provide to the public.”

A paper on compulsory severance is being presented and debated at the National Police Chiefs’ Council meeting this coming week and the PFEW has hit out at the ‘astounding and galling’ proposals. It has been in discussion with the NPCC and wrote to all Chiefs last week (Friday), and to the NPCC, expressing its wholehearted rejection of the proposal, while individual representatives have been working hard with their own chiefs to ensure the collective stance is known.

Compulsory severance has previously been considered, most recently in 2013 but rejected by an independent Police Arbitration Tribunal, which did not recommend its introduction at that time, partly because of the evidence that the PFEW provided to show how devastating it would be on the service.

Steve added: “If such a proposal was seriously considered we would be compelled to take whatever action needed to stop its introduction. It would appear that this is purely a cost cutting consideration and not one based on service demand and delivery.” 

The letter to Chiefs also states there is ‘no evidence to suggest that it is required’. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has already identified a lack of workforce planning; while the National Audit Office has recently voiced concern that there is no assessment of current or future demand, yet financial decisions that may impact on structure and process are arbitrarily being taken by government. 

Chiefs are being urged not to ‘acquiesce to the Government’s damaging proposals’ and ‘stand against this misguided course of action’ and the Federation will be reiterating that message to the Chiefs who attend the national Police Bravery Awards in London this coming week.

“How ironic that we are marking some of the finest acts of policing and police bravery, celebrating that with Chiefs, while at the same time they are considering sacking their own to appease Government who are hell bent on privatising the police service.”

Voluntary severance has been adopted by a handful of forces* and the PFEW says consideration should be given to extending this before any moves towards it being compulsory.

“We do not agree there is a need to introduce compulsory severance for police officers. It is completely unnecessary, yet its consideration alone will cause unnecessary worry, unease and widespread anger across the service. To seek legislation to introduce it risks further damage to the psychological contract that exists between police officers and the police service and is likely to have negative consequences for policing,” said Steve.

You can read the letter in full here.

Notes:

*Voluntary Severance has or is been used or being considered in five forces: Durham, Gwent, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Metropolitan.