An inflexible police service

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2016 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
14 June 2016

The College of Policing guidance on flexible working states that “Policing is a demand led, 24/7 service where its people are key to its successful delivery. By providing flexible working arrangements for staff, organisations are shown to have a more motivated and productive workforce…. it is about gaining a balance that provides an opportunity for people to give their best at work and at home.”

However, in practice the opportunity for police staff to work flexibly, and to “give their best” is severely restricted by inflexible management, who refuse to consider changing existing working patterns, claiming that to do so would be time consuming; that flexible and part-time working would exacerbate workload problems, and would have too great an impact on other staff. For staff with caring responsibilities, such inflexibility can ultimately lead to them having to resign from the force.

Underlying the reluctance of managers to allow flexible working is the ongoing issue of increased workload with decreased resources. Cuts and savings have been made in an attempt to avoid compulsory redundancies, but in many cases posts are being ‘disestablished’ with workers taking voluntary redundancy or voluntary early retirement and the workload being absorbed by colleagues. Flexibility is often the first casualty of staff cuts, as there is little room for manoeuvre with limited resources.

Inevitably this causes greater stress within the workplace and there is little resilience left amongst workers to cover when other colleagues are off sick, on leave or on maternity/paternity leave etc.

Conference believes that, whilst the issue of workload and resources needs to be addressed as a priority, the continued reluctance and refusal to consider flexible working, despite the College of Policing guidance, can and should be able to be resolved independently.

Conference therefore calls upon the Service Group Executive to work with the national women’s committee to:

1)Raise these concerns with all appropriate bodies, including the College of Policing, to seek to ensure that managers have a greater understanding of both their obligations and the benefits of flexible working, for both employers and staff;

2)Issue further guidance to branches on the existing rights of workers and how to negotiate flexible working arrangements;

3)Raise awareness of the College of Policing guidance.