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Chiefs warned rank-and-file police feel ‘angry and betrayed’
10:13am Friday 21st September 2012 in News
POLICE chiefs in North Yorkshire have been warned that rank-and-file officers are feeling “angry and betrayed” about the state of the service, writes Jennifer Bell.
Mark Botham, chair of the North Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents officers, claimed the force’s shift system – introduced earlier this year – job losses, conditions of service and changes to pensions amid budget cuts have left morale low and its workforce frustrated and unmotivated.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual meeting in Harrogate last night, he also branded the Government’s approach to policing “chaotic, foolish and aggressive”, saying police reform had been done in an “ad-hoc and piecemeal” way.
At the meeting, which provides a forum for officers to debate issues affecting policing, Mr Botham also raised concerns that the upcoming elections for the new police and crime commissioners – which will replace the current North Yorkshire Police Authority – could be influenced too much by families and friends because he believed not enough people would vote.
Mr Botham also expressed concerns about the safety of officers amid job losses. “We hope the chief officer team nurtures the force because, no matter how difficult the economic climate is, we cannot and must not compromise the safety and effectiveness of the officers we represent or the public they serve.”
He added that officer numbers were so low that the force could not cope with demand.
Mr Botham said he believed officer numbers – which are at a nine-year low – put members in danger.
The force’s temporary chief constable, Tim Madgwick, thanked officers and staff for their continuing hard work in the face of adversity.
Mr Madgwick told the officers at the meeting: “The commitment of our teams has been clearly demonstrated throughout the summer of 2012 which I’m sure you will agree, has placed extraordinary demand on our resources. This began with the Queen’s visit to York on Maundy Thursday, Euro 2012, the success of the Olympic torch relay and finally the policing of the Olympic games themselves.
“You have delivered this. You, out there delivering everyday policing. And I would like to thank you.”
Commenting on Mr Botham’s concerns, Mr Madgwick said he would be reviewing shift patterns after speaking to frustrated officers – promising to “find an alternative to the current shift pattern” and vowing to keep any budget impact on frontline staff to a minimum.
Mr Botham acknowledged the work done by Mr Madgwick and his deputy, Sue Cross, in combating financial difficulties in the wake of sweeping budget cuts.
He also thanked police chiefs for work in organising the National Police Memorial Day, to be held at York Minster later this month.