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BTP officer fatigue is evidence rosters are not 'as successful as described'


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Officer well-being must not be overlooked, says Fed.

DCC Adrian Hanstock

DCC Adrian Hanstock


Retention and rest day cancellations are still undermining British Transport Police workforce morale almost a year after HMIC raised the issue, the federation has claimed.  

In February 2017 HMIC inspectors found BTP was regularly cancelling officers’ rest days for “regular events”, resulting in an estimated £4-5 million annual overtime bill to cover “predictable demands.”

The report, which was only published last month, said a BTP deployment programme, introduced to analyse how BTP’s frontline resources are being allocated, discovered frontline uniformed officers and staff weren’t well distributed geographically and did not have the right shift patterns to meet demand.

In April 2017 new “corporate” rosters were introduced to help tackle the problem but the BTP Federation disputed Chief Constable Paul Crowther’s claims about the success of the new shift rotas.

Divisional commands were allowed to propose their own rosters, which were rejected on the grounds they failed to meet demand.

The proposed rosters would result in about 1,000 rest days being cancelled each month and 230 fewer officers and PCSOs available on Saturdays (a key day for the force), the federation was told.

BTP Federation Chairman Nigel Goodband said CC Crowther has claimed the current roster is “already having a positive impact in officers' work/life balance and ability to plan time off with more certainty.”

“This is at odds with the feedback we receive from officers. I accept rest day cancellations have reduced but there is still a long way to go and we regularly receive evidence of shift patterns being altered that would suggest it isn't as successful as described.

“Our main concern remains the 'fatigue factor'. Although the rosters may meet demand, what is the impact on performance and more importantly, what about wellbeing?”

He told Police Oracle although the new rosters have been designed to better meet peak demand times such as Saturdays, the knock-on impact on officers’ welfare has not been addressed.

“The new rosters mean officers are working increased anti-social hours and the impact upon officers’ ability to perform should not be overlooked.

“If you have a Saturday rest day cancelled the officer will want another Saturday back. But they may only get two weekends in nine off and it can be months before they can apply their additional rest day. 

“Officers are very busy, very tired and very committed, nonetheless the self-motivation, commitment and pride is wearing very thin.

“Retention is also another issue that needs to be accounted for.”

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock, chairman of the Demand Programme, said the current shift variations were in fact implemented in response to a 2015 staff survey.

He said the alternate rosters proposed by officers were turned down as “it would create the situation where too few officers would be on duty at key times of the week, particularly on Saturdays in order to meet the commitments of policing those travelling to and from football matches, leading to regular and unwelcome cancellation of rest days.”

DCC Hanstock added: “Throughout the Demand and Resources Review programme there have been regular meetings and consultation sessions, including visits by the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable to various locations across the country to gauge the effectiveness of the model.

“In addition the BTP Federation meets regularly with the Chief Constable and has a standing place on the Demand Programme Board.

“Since the rosters were introduced, cancelled rest days have reduced by a third. As a consequence of having a more consistent duties model, planning for major events enables rest changes to be advised at least 90 days in advance in line with police regulations.

“Vacancies across the force and the impact of unplanned abstractions (i.e. sickness, short-notice leave, temporary promotions, etc.) will invariably mean shift times can be extended or changed at the last minute, however, it is unlikely that any roster pattern could accommodate this degree of unforeseen change across such a broad area of coverage.” 

A BTP spokeswoman said more than 200 probationers are expected to join the frontline over the next three months.

More than 200 probationers will graduate from our training centre over the next three months and have been posted to frontline roles bringing additional operational resilience to meet the demand.

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