December 31, 2011 5 Comments
Well, a whole year has passed since I started the Protect Police Pensions campaign…and what a year it has been!
It all began on 2nd January 2011 when I decided to enlarge on what I had been doing locally ~ encouraging fellow Police Officers to contact their MP to protest at the proposals that Lord Hutton was making in the Hutton Report on Public Sector Pensions.
As a result, thousands of Coppers covering every Force around the country wrote to hundreds of MPs. Police Review, before its sad demise at the end of the year, picked up on the campaign in its first week, and has been amazing in helping to publicise it to maximum effect. Incidentally, Police Review reporter Caroline Craig was given the job of interviewing me in January 2011 on her first week with the magazine. Little did either of us know at the time that the other hadn’t a clue what they were doing!!
But Caroline was fantastic, learning very quickly about Police pensions, while I learned quickly about the workings of the media, both conventional and social, and together the campaign was launched.
A Facebook Cause was launched, as was an i-Petition, I went live on Twitter and launched a website, and was absolutely overwhelmed by the amazing response I was getting from colleagues and non-colleagues alike from all over the country! Thousands signed up to the Facebook Cause and the original i-Petition and the power of Twitter proved invaluable in spreading the word quickly.
My own MP, Peter Aldous (Conservative – Waveney), was incredibly helpful, and was fantastic in his support and readiness to hold meetings, privately and publicly, and contacting the right people at Westminster.
As a result of a tweet I made in early March querying why the Police Minister Nick Herbert had ignored Peter Aldous’ request for a face-to-face meeting with me, within minutes Mr Aldous’ office was contacted by the Home Office demanding a meeting! That was on a Friday. The following Wednesday found me on a train to London where I had a forthright discussion with Mr Herbert.
In May, I was invited by national Police Federation Chairman, Paul McKeever, to attend the Federation Conference in Bournemouth and give a few words on stage regarding the campaign. Paul was extremely kind with his words of praise and encouragement!
Lord Hutton eventually published his Report (late) and Winsor published his Review (late) gaining a massive six-month extension for publication of his dreaded second Review (earning, sorry, costing £300 per day for both him and his advisor ~ obtained from a Freedom of Information request I made).
The final result of Hutton’s proposals as far as our pensions are concerned has three facets:~
- pay more
- pay longer
- receive less
Of course, this applies to all aspects of the public sector, apart from the Armed Forces, oh and MPs….. hence the massive strike organised for 30th November, which saw millions take to the streets protesting about these drastic and significant proposals.
HM Government saw fit to offer a slight softener by promising that anyone with less than 10 years until retirement will not be adversely affected ~ however, the detail of this offer has not yet been revealed, so the crackers have not yet been pulled in celebration.
Well, what now? On 11th November I launched an e-petition on the Govt’s website, which to date has attracted over 18,000 signatures ~ still a far cry from the 100,000 we need to have any chance of the matter being debated in the Commons. Read my other (shorter!) blog here.
Has the campaign run out of steam? Is there anywhere else it can go?
No, it has not ended, and yes, we are continuing to make our voice heard as much as possible, until the Govt finally details what it has in store for us. There has been so much waiting, so much talking on both sides, and so little negotiation from the Govt, despite valiant attempts from the Staff Side on PNB, that generally Police Officers around the country are feeling totally demoralised and despondent.
This is due in part to the massively swingeing effects of the drastic budget cuts being imposed on the Police Service, but also in part to the awfully damaging proposals with regards to our pay, pension and conditions of service.
In 27 years’ service, I can honestly say I have never seen Police morale as low as it is today. And we have a huge year ahead of us with the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee celebrations, on top of policing with fewer staff and more pressure of responsibility.
All the more reason to rally round, continue to speak out, badger our MPs to keep the campaign alive, and sign the e-petition.