Work/Life balance

The ever increasing demands being placed on a reducing number of officers within the Inspecting ranks have long been matters of concern for both us and our colleagues across the country. In recent years, ‘Resilience’ has been the overarching topic of discussion at several Inspectors Central Conferences. In the current climate of austerity all public services are trying to get more work from fewer resources and we are no different.

We have long suspected that there are too few of us available to do the work demanded. This has resulted in many of our members regularly working excessive hours without the opportunity to take appropriate periods of compensatory rest.

Large numbers of unused annual leave and rest days are being routinely accumulated with no realistic prospect of taking them before their currency expires. All this means that officers are unable to achieve a healthy work/life balance and ultimately this creates a detrimental effect not only upon their own health & wellbeing but also the lives of their immediate family members, their colleagues and the public they serve.

In order to highlight these concerns we surveyed a large number of our members in both 2007 and 2009 seeking information on the hours they are working, the leave they have outstanding and the roles and responsibilities they have. The results on both occasions sadly only confirm our suspicion of passive consent for regular excessive hours, with many examples in breach of the Working Time Regulations.
In 2008 the Inspectors Central Committee of the PFEW conducted a nationwide ‘Well-being at Work’ stress survey across all Inspecting ranks and the data they gathered serves to reinforce the picture of two overstretched, and overworked ranks.

In December 2008, we published a guide to working conditions for the Inspecting ranks in the MPS entitled ‘Exploding the Myths’ which we have distributed to all our members in the hope that it will educate them as to what is expected of them under the 1994 salaried agreement and to assist them in asserting their rights under the Working Time Regulations (WTR) with their managers.

In 2011 the Inspectors Central Committee reproduced the ‘Exploding the Myths’ booklet and distributed it to all inspecting ranks across the country.

We believe that our members need to understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance and that provision exists within both the WTR and the agreed working conditions for inspectors which allow them to better achieve this should they so wish. Concepts such as flexibility, balancing of hours and night worker health screening need to be understood and used by officers to protect themselves from unacceptable exploitation.

In 2010 we published an updated booklet entitled ‘Exploring the ‘Myths’ which again examined the finding of a follow up survey of our members. We produced an accompanying DVD showing a panel discussing all the topical issues raised by the survey. We asked our members the searching question ‘When are you going to draw your line in the sand?’

In 2011 the Inspectors Central Committee surveyed all inspecting ranks across the country and the results were analysed by academic researchers at Cardiff University – Professor Peter Turnbull and Dr. Victoria Wass. As a result of the tremendous response rate and damning evidence of abuse at our ranks they produced the ‘Time for Justice?’ report which looked at the long working hours and the wellbeing of Police Inspectors.

In 2013 it is intended to follow up this report with National workshops involving all stakeholders from ACPO, HR managers, Superintendents and our members to endeavour to change working practices for the betterment of our members and ultimately the public we serve.