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Sergeants are 'overloaded by Uplift'


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More sergeants will leave the service unless they get better support 'tutoring' the influx of new recruits, the Police Federation has warned chief constables.

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Date - 11th February 2021
By - Chris Smith

A lack of support in dealing with inexperienced PCs after years of under-investment has led to an increase in stress among Sergeants, according the Federations training and development lead.

Dave Bamber told Police Oracle that pressure is mounting due to the extra demands of supporting the 6,600 new officers that are taking to the streets for the first time.

The Fed also warned that without action there could be a rise in conduct issues – and a drop in retention rates.

Fed reps across the country have warned that Sergeants have extra pressures because the new degree system puts extra demand on ‘tutor’ officers.

They are following up on findings from the Fed’s report Demand Capacity & Welfare Survey 2020 - The Officer Uplift and Sergeant Impacts. It found that more than half of sergeants felt they had insufficient time and resources to support new Constables.

It follows years of cuts that saw the ratio between Sergeants and PCs rise from one to seven to one to 10. Officers say the Uplift programme will only increase it.

More than half of Sergeants told the Fed’s survey it was extremely unlikely that they will have enough time and resources to manage this increase in their shift management responsibilities.

And 49% said they did not believe their force will have enough Sergeants or line managers to supervise the new recruits.

One Sergeant told the survey: “We don't have the time to train and mentor new officers. Their foundation training is not good enough, even worse now with COVID-19. Probationers are left to train other probationers. We can't effectively supervise the officers we already have."

Mr Bamber told Police Oracle: “There’s been a lack of investment for 20 years in their role. It’s a recipe for disaster.

“There’s that expectation for them to instinctively know it. Who teaches a sergeant before promotion on regulations? Nobody other than the Fed? There’s leave, overtime and more to understand,” he said.

He added: “If you have inexperienced people learning from inexperienced people, where does the continuation of knowledge come from?”

Another concern for the Fed is that the officers who are unable to focus on tutoring because of time limits will find themselves facing conduct investigations if something goes wrong.

Mr Bamber warned: “How much reflective practice does somebody have to do before it damages their personal wellbeing? If you’re having to go home every night thinking and worrying about the implications of how you’ve dealt with a job, how long will you stay?”

The Fed wants to see best practice on tutoring being rapidly shared across all 43 forces, a familiar problem raised about other policing areas by HM Inspectorate.

Mr Bamber said: “There’s some positive moves; there’s a review of supervision and what training should be there. There’s a recognition of minimum – and I stress minimum – standards. They’re just not being shared as well as they should be in the workforce.

“There are pockets of really good activity within the Service; it’s just not being shared across England and Wales as much as we would like. HMI and ourselves are very much the same on this. We come at it from a different place but we’re pretty much the same.”

The NPCC told Police Oracle that senior leaders are aware of the pressures on sergeants. 

“We recognise that supervisory support to new police officers, as well as existing workforces within policing is important for officer retention. Forces within the financial modelling outlined by the Police Uplift Programme have an element for growth in supervisory ranks, but this is a matter for each Chief Constable based on the individual forces’ circumstances and requirements,” a spokesman said.

“The Programme do monitor numbers of Sergeants and Inspectors and we know how important it is they are supported where possible.”

The NPCC said work was under way to address the concerns that have been raised: “The College of Policing has been working with the Police Uplift Programme to provide professional development support to frontline supervisors and tutors, including consultation and engagement across forces to identify good practise, learn lessons and address any concerns.

“The College are developing toolkits for assessors and supervisors - providing readily available techniques to enhance their understanding and management of work-based learning and assessment as well as developing access to supportive networks of peers.”

The NPCC said there had been an increase in the number of supervisors: “The data we have so far shows growth broadly at a national level in line with what was estimated in the financial modelling based on force returns and estimation to March 2021. It is something we will continue to review and help forces with.”

It added: “We do not underestimate the stresses that all front line staff including police officers are under and will always work with individual forces if a specific concern is raised in relation to the requirements of the programme.”

View On Police Oracle

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