Friday brief: Northamptonshire police staff complain of being ‘overwhelmed' and close to 'burn out’
Plus call on councils to pull out of pension fossil fuel investments fall down and some ideas for what to do this weekend
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Northamptonshire police staff have told the force’s watchdog they feel ‘overwhelmed and close to burn out’ amid the highest ever number of voluntary resignations from the service.
The latest Peel report by police inspectorate the HMICFRS stated that 45 officers voluntarily left the force in the year to March 20, with 32 in the year before. This compares to just 12 in 2012.
The report, which once again rated the Northamptonshire force as requiring improvement in most areas, has tasked the county’s chief constable Nick Adderley with improving staff wellbeing by lessening the workload. In recent years violent crime has been on the increase in Northants, with a significant rise in serious organised crime and knife crime incidents.
“We heard from a range of employees, both in response and in other departments, who were concerned about some of their colleagues’ wellbeing and described feeling overwhelmed and close to burn-out.
“While there is support available to officers and staff, better management of workloads would have a positive impact on the workforce’s wellbeing.”
Inspectors also pointed to issues with sickness.
“While minimum staffing levels in response teams are often met, some teams have high vacancy levels due to sickness, maternity leave or student officer duties.
One team we met had 24 officers assigned to it, but only 12 on duty. Currently, 63.6 percent of response officers have less than two years in service and 88.7 percent have less than five years’ service.”
The report also said that the Northants force did not have enough tutors to support new recruits. As part of the national uplift the force has been on a recruitment drive - it currently has around 1350 officers and aims to have 1461 by March. New officers are trained at the new Giffard training centre in Weston Favell before most are placed in the response teams, which inspectors found was suffering with heavy workloads with having to investigate crimes alongside the emergency work and managing crime scenes.
“The force needs to find ways to motivate officers to become tutors. It should make sure that its current model of tutoring is effective in providing a strong foundation on which new officers can build their career, and that it addresses the increasing attrition rate.”
The rise in voluntary resignations has increased significantly since the chief constable joined the force in August 2018, but when NN Journal asked the force whether there was a correlation it issued this statement:
“To make a correlation between officers leaving and the chief constable’s leadership would be wholly unfair and the NN Journal is invited to speak to any officer they wish regarding their thoughts on the environment the chief constable creates.
“Since the chief’s arrival in 2018, an extra 400+ officers have been recruited as part of a national campaign to increase the number of police officers across the country. This is a huge number in comparison to in previous years before the chief joined.
“As in any job where a large number of people are recruited, there will always be some that later decide the job isn’t for them.
“Policing has also been through a significant period of change in the last decade, having faced budget cuts alongside other public bodies. The type of crime we are now responding to has changed, we have far more complex investigations to manage, as well as an increase in historic cases which take a considerable amount of time to investigate. It is very simplistic to suggest the reason behind officers leaving is solely based on local leadership.
“Furthermore, a staff satisfaction survey published in June 2020, two years after the chief constable joined, showed a marked improvement in comparison to the previous one in 2017, with officers and staff commenting on increased morale, feeling more inspired, and an improvement in team relationships across the force.
“The chief constable we have now is one of the most supportive police leaders in the country, evidenced by the immeasurable amount of respect he commands by officers across the country. To make this correlation would be unjust and something we, as a force, refute wholeheartedly.”
Comments made by the chief constable to a police magazine have been picked up by the national media this week who have reported that he has been critical of young recruits ‘for lacking in life experience’.
Nick Adderley says his comments have been taken out of context and posted a thread on Twitter in response which you can read here
News in brief:
Two motions proposed at the North and West unitaries to move the pension funds away from investing in fossil fuels have been voted down. The motion put forward by the Kettering Green Alliance at the full council on Wednesday was voted against by the Conservative ruling party, whose members NN Journal understands were whipped to toe the line. Arguments proposed included it would be too difficult a thing to do that fossil fuels have their place.
The Liberal Democrat motion at the West full council last night also failed however Cllr Malcolm Longley who is the chair of the Pensions Committee said a report into divestment had been commissioned and the issue was being looked at.
The unitary councils will now each recruit their own director of public health and director of children’s services after initially deciding to share the officer.
A 17-year-old has been found guilty of murdering 16 year old Corby teenager Rayon Pennycook, earlier this summer. The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty by a majority verdict at Northampton Crown Court yesterday. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Two Northants MPs voted against new Covid rules which included a return to people wearing a face covering in retail spaces and on public transport.
Kettering MP Phillip Hollobone and MP for Northampton South Andrew Lewer were part of a small Tory rebellion which saw 22 members of parliament vote against the rules.
The changes come amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant and also include tighter testing requirements for travel.
Other MPs to vote against the rules included Mark Francois, Andrew Brigden and Steve Baker. Speaking about the vote Baker said the government was ‘once again choosing that downward path towards, frankly, hell’.
The prime minister said the changes will “help us slow down the variant’s spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for.”
Independent of the week: Fridge Street
If you have a favourite Northampton building or landmark, there’s a good chance Fridge Street will have turned an illustration of it into a magnet. Their popular range now also includes tea towels, puzzles, mugs and more. The perfect place to pick up an xmas pressent.
Check them out online, or in store at Vintage Guru on St Giles Street Northampton
🎭 It’s your last chance to catch the award winning play Blue and Orange at the Royal in Northampton this weekend. Purchase tickets here https://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/blueorange/
🎄 Rushden Lakes is holding a handmade and vintage Christmas Fair on Saturday from 9am
🎸There are still tickets available for UK Subs at the Roadmender tonight. https://www.theroadmender.com/event/uk-subs/?fbclid=IwAR37qVsurfJKTPzHDSV7wdu1us9EMrEY2hkERig0yMMuvWXG-to1YVYVh2Q
🎵 The ska and two-tone tribute band Hope and Glory are playing at the Cardigan Arms in Corby on Saturday from 9pm
We publish an original news story each week day. Below are extracts of stories we covered this week. Become a paid member (it costs just £5 a week) to receive all of our news (and support our local journalism).
‘I can’t tell you how she died and I can’t tell you where she is’
Here’s an extract from our story this week about the 21 year search for missing teenager Sarah Benford, which this week drew a blank after police had hoped to find her remains.
A renewed effort to find the remains of missing teenager Sarah Benford has not unearthed her body, leading the detective in charge of the investigation to say the two-week dig was a failure.
Officers and forensic specialists have been scouring the parkland site in Valley Walk, Kettering, for the body of Sarah after ‘credible community intelligence’ indicated this was the spot where she had been buried after disappearing in April 2000.
However after 14 days of activity the police have now called time on the dig and detective superintendent Joe Banfield yesterday told national and local media at a staged press conference that it was ‘futile’ to move the search beyond the 70m by 70m cordoned off boundary - the search had focused on a 20m square within that space.
He said the information given had been specific to that 20m patch and the scientists and experts had given him a high level of assurance that Sarah was not buried in that area.
Any further digging in the valley walk area ‘would not be a suitable use of our resources’ he said and admitted he viewed not having found her body as a failure.