Chiefs should be held to account over their decision to back proposals to make officers redundant, says Royston Martis.
Ask your chief.
Ask whether he or she backs the idea that police officers should be made redundant.
Use email, Twitter or ask them in person.
They must have a view, because among the 43 chief constables in England and Wales, a majority have given the go ahead, however “reluctantly”, for officers to be the subject of compulsory severance.
As revealed this week, at a meeting of the Chief Constables’ Council, chiefs decided once and for all that they wanted the ability to make police officers redundant.
They should be held to account for their decisions.
One contact told me: “Let us insist on a publication of those chief constables that voted in favour… so individual officers can decide whether they wish to support chiefs that would sell us down the river.”
A spokeswoman for ACPO said: “The overriding issue for chiefs was that beyond 2016 there are likely to be further significant funding cuts and therefore, very reluctantly, forces in the future would need to have this means of reducing expenditure at their disposal.”
She added that “chiefs recognised the strength of feeling among police officers about compulsory severance” and that it “would be a matter of extreme last resort”.
Rumours are that ACPO as a collective, an influential member of the Official Side of the Police Negotiating Board, was thinking of ditching backing for compulsory severance at the meeting, but chiefs changed their minds.
At the same meeting they were addressed by the architect of compulsory severance – the man who is now HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.
I’m not sure I believe in coincidences.
As we know, whether a power to make officers redundant is introduced remains to be seen. A week after the chiefs’ council meeting, the PNB registered a “failure to agree” on the issue and it will now go to the Police Arbitration Tribunal later this year.
Home Secretary Theresa May will then have the final decision.
She must remember what chiefs seem to have forgotten. Introducing compulsory severance would change policing history in this country. It would erode the special status of the Office of Constable. And you won’t be able to get that back.
“People ask why is it important that officers can’t have their service severed. If [it is introduced and] someone says something or operates in a way that doesn’t suit those in control of the service, they can be got rid of.
“We think that is a dangerous road to start going down.”
This is what the late Paul McKeever said to me last year when he was chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales. As always, he was a man worth listening to.
One of the great strengths of the British police service is that Paul – like all chief constables – started off as a PC walking the streets.
He was a bobby on the beat, a servant of the crown, and not an employee.
There are a majority of chief constables who have forgotten they still hold the office of constable – and they are still cops.
Shame on them – perhaps direct entry is a good idea after all.
The shameful tale of compulsory severance