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A step too far

When proposals for the introduction of compulsory severance in the police service were kicked into the long grass in December 2013, police officers breathed a sigh of relief.

The idea came from Tom Winsor in his review of police pay and conditions of service but his proposal was rejected by the Police Arbitration Tribunal (PAT) almost two years ago, and its ruling was ratified by the Home Secretary in February last year.

But Theresa May's statement at the time left us in no doubt that the idea would not be left on the shelf for long with Tom Winsor's knighthood and his appointment as head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) making it clear his report had been well received by the Government.

On backing the PAT finding, Mrs May said: "However, this remains a reform that I believe Government and the police should continue to consider."

So, when on 28 Sept

ember, the National Police Chiefs' Council (formerly ACPO) issued a statement on this issue, it was hardly a great surprise. The Chiefs' Council announcement read: "Police chiefs are considering whether they reluctantly ask the Home Secretary to introduce compulsory redundancy as an option for chiefs and Police and Crime Commissioners to manage significant further cuts to the service."

Eighteen months may have passed but, for us, the position remains unchanged. Police officers should not be subject to compulsory severance, we are servants of the Crown, not employees and any reform that allowed us to be made redundant should, I would argue, be accompanied by legislation allowing us the same rights as other employees. It is, quite simply, a step too far.

I am sure any move in this direction will be accompanied by officers seeking a further vote on whether they want the national Police Federation to lobby for industrial rights, including the ability to strike.

We cannot be treated as employees on one hand but then denied rights on the other.

But, that is not to say we don't have some understanding of the predicament police chiefs are facing. Ever-shrinking budgets - and we are confident November's Comprehensive Spending Review will bring more cuts - are making it increasingly difficult for forces to make ends meet. They are struggling to match dwindling resources with demand and something has to give.

For me, however, the one thing that the service can't give is the ability to make police officers redundant. We hold a unique place in society and that should remain if we are to maintain the fine position of the Office of Constable.

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