Caryl Nobbs doesn’t like to say exactly how many years she’s been working for the police but she remembers when women weren’t allowed to go on patrol.
She has had various roles in Northumbria police and currently works in HR. She’s also the chair of UNISON’s police and justice service group executive.
Having been a member of police staff for a long time, Caryl has seen it go through many changes.
But right now she is worried about the increase in relying on volunteers, and how the new Police and Crime Bill will exacerbate that.
“The bill is going to extend powers further to volunteer PCSOs and volunteers in general,” she says. “There’s a big push now towards volunteers in policing.”
So what’s wrong with volunteers?
“The danger is they’re unaccountable,” Caryl says, “we don’t know if they’re actually going to turn in to do a role.
“And if you make a complaint against a police volunteer, that police volunteer can walk out of the door. The IPCC doesn’t investigate volunteers.”
Caryl points out that special constable volunteers and young cadet volunteers do play a very important role in policing though.
The biggest challenges to police and justice workers are, Caryl says, the same ones that face all public sector workers: “The cuts, the standstill on salary, the 1% pay increases when you see your food bills going up and your fuel bills going up.
“It’s happening in local government, health, police and justice, energy, water, environment, transport… everybody is seeing their standard of living going down.
“And I think that is the biggest challenge for us as a union and also for individuals.”
Right now she is urging police staff in England and Wales to vote in the ballot on a revised police staff council handbook of pay and conditions.
She was part of the team for UNISON, along with other unions Unite and GMB who have spent two years negotiating for changes.
“The employers went with a shopping list, we went with a shopping list,” she explains.
“Where we started from and where we ended up are two totally different areas. We think it’s a balanced package now. That’s why I think members should vote yes.”