Circular 02/14 – Update to Members
The purpose of this Circular is to update members on the latest position regarding several aspects of their Conditions of Service. It is appreciated that members are frustrated about the delays regarding significant progress on matters but none of these delays can be attributed to the Defence Police Federation.
Terms and Conditions of Service Review
Members were previously advised that the Department had identified a team to work full time on our TACOS and, as a result, we were hopeful that matters would move with some pace. Unfortunately, this has not proven to be the case to date and progress has been significantly slower than anticipated.
To date, we have yet to receive any indication of the Department's intent albeit we are currently negotiating (though the Department do not accept and state it is consultation) on the Terms for New Entrants Other Forces and New Entrants – terms, incidentally we do not agree with. The Department did indicate that it would come to us with firm proposals prior to the festive break but this did not materialise. However, we do have a meeting due within the next week or so thus we are hopeful that a firm offer may yet be forthcoming.
Net Pay Deduction
There has been no development on the Net Pay Deduction and the Department have yet to answer our questions regarding this rather emotive subject. We wrote to them seeking discussions with regards to this matter being reviewed post (and pre) the implementation of increased contributions to pensions but they have stated they have some difficulty dealing with this.
We suspect that the difficulties may arise due to the loss of corporate knowledge on the subject (and perhaps even poor archiving) but as nothing has been clearly articulated we are unable to enlighten you further.
Added to this the fact that we have yet to be furnished with a copy of the Government Actuaries Department report, it is not difficult to determine our frustrations at the lack of movement especially considering our colleagues in the Defence Fire and Rescue Service have already had their NPD reviewed and adjusted. Nevertheless, we commissioned our own report by an Actuary and expect to receive the completed report within the next few days. This will hopefully provide an indication of what to expect and should give us a platform to work from.
Normal Pension Age
With the implementation of the new pension scheme in 2015, MDP will effectively have a normal pension age equivalent to State Pension Age – 65 and rising to 70 – if left unchallenged. To expect fully qualified firearms officers to work to such an age (over a 50 year work span carrying 25kg of equipment) is, frankly, ludicrous.
DPF has been in discussion with the Department on this matter and actually submitted an amendment to the Pensions Act which resulted in the Department having to submit a report to the House of Commons. We were extremely disappointed with the report and again lobbied parliament to publicise our disapproval. As a direct result, we secured assurances from the Minister and Department (actually receiving apologies for how the review had been conducted) and are now engaging at a level higher than previous.
We recently held a meeting with the Minster and she seemed to understand the unique nature of the MDP roles However, she is not in a position to make any determination without being fully apprised of the projected costs thus she has instructed the Department to gather the necessary data and report back – precisely the data that we believed the review should have identified in the first place.
There is no doubt that it may take some time to gather this information but you can rest assured that we will continue to pursue and we will recommence lobbying if matters do not move at a respectable pace. However, we expect matters to be resolved rather expeditiously as the Regulations for the new pension scheme must be finalised before it is implemented in April 2015.
Job Related Fitness Test
You are all aware of CCMDP's preference for a shuttle run (or bleep) test but we are not confident that this test would stand legal scrutiny as being appropriate for MDP tasking. The reasons for this are many and varied but the plain simple truth is that no task analysis has been conducted to show the physical and physiological requirements for MDP roles thus our argument is simply that this data must be gathered to ascertain the most appropriate method and level of testing.
With this in mind, the Institute of Naval Medicine has been commissioned to develop a fitness test suitable for the MDP roles. INM will soon be looking for volunteers to assist them with their data gathering exercise and we ask you to oblige them and volunteer your services.
It has been raised that we should just accept the bleep test (some even complain the level is too low) and get on with it. However, it should be noted that if we allowed this to happen and it resulted in a member sustaining a serious or fatal injury we could be held partially accountable as no data had been gathered on the appropriateness of the test. If the INM determine that 'x' level on the bleep test is the most appropriate level for MDP tasking then we will be obliged to accept. However, feedback thus far suggests that we are right to challenge as it is unlikely that such a test is indeed appropriate or legally defensible.
It has also been raised that we should seek full parity with our Home Office colleagues (same pay, pension, allowances, fitness test, etc) if we consider ourselves police officers in the same mould thus it may interest you to note that we had already proffered this to the Department and it is they who reject it – not the DPF.
Members were previously advised that the pay increase was due in the February pay packet. We are pleased to confirm that we have received assurances that this is still on track and that all back dated monies will also be paid at the same time.
DPF fully appreciate the fact that you, our members, still await clarity on any proposed changes to TACOS and for a suitable and appropriate NPA to be identified. We also appreciate the fact that the increased pension contributions have had a significant impact upon your take home pay and are fully aware of the injustice of paying both the increased contributions and Net Pay Deduction.
It would be a great relief to all if these matters were resolved overnight but the stark reality is somewhat different.
TACOS have stalled on several occasions due to personnel moving within or leaving the Department under VERS. This is extremely disappointing but nevertheless a result of the government's commitment to reducing public spending.
Net Pay Deduction has remained in place whilst increases in pension contributions have been implemented immediately. As frustrating and unfair as this first appears, increases in pension contributions are implemented by the Cabinet Office on behalf of the Treasury whilst NPD is determined by the Department. Consequently, one is not directly dependent upon the other albeit they are inextricably linked.
NPA for MDP officers is to be set at SPA whilst our Home Office colleagues have theirs set at 60. Unfortunately, Lord Hutton has admitted his oversight with regards to including MDP as a uniformed service, hence, it is now down to the Department to determine what our NPA should be.
It can therefore be seen that the common denominator in all these issues is the Department and, as stated, personnel changes have had a significant impact upon its ability to deal with matters expeditiously. Additionally, spending constraints imposed by the government have resulted in difficulty determining budgets and availability of funds. Consequently, matters have been significantly slow to develop and progress hence the delays in issues being clarified.
It would be wrong to attribute lack of progress to any deficiency on the part of DPF as we continue to negotiate on your behalf and with your best interests at heart. Consultation/negotiation is a slow and laborious process at the best of times and we have been unfortunate to be under review in the middle of a recession where the purse strings are tighter than ever and personnel cuts are the norm.
We are not sitting on our laurels and progress is being made (albeit slowly) and much has been done behind the scenes. As police officers, we are forbidden by law to engage in industrial action thus our only recourse is through the engagement process.
Hopefully, most of the fruits of our labours will begin to materialise over the forthcoming months and new terms and conditions can be put before conference in June for debate. We will endeavour to articulate any such progress to you as soon as practically possible and we thank you for your continued patience and support.