Our 2023 theme of “Demand Deluge” hit the spot. Most delegate reports highlighted the pressures that all work groups and districts are facing. The issues we debated and the excellent presentation from former district commander John Price are covered in articles in the following pages. Reports from our Australian and South African guests confirm the pressures we are facing are those of police globally.
Congratulations to the 17 new delegates who came to conference and thank you for committing to the association by putting yourselves forward for office. We are a voluntary membership organisation so those of you who give your time and energy are our foundation and very much appreciated.
One of the hot topics of this year’s conference was the issue of paid overtime, which must now form part of any pay settlement.
Police has always relied on the goodwill of staff to work overtime to meet the demands of policing which, in practice, means putting Police before family. TOIL no longer cuts it as compensation for this, particularly as Police then forces that TOIL to be taken at its convenience, irrespective of the disruption it causes. It is time to be paid penal rates akin to those in similar industries.
As any good employer, Police should be concerned at the cumulative impact of overtime on staff. However, the reality is policing has always required overtime to enable delivery of services to our communities. With no evident brake on dramatic increases in demand, overtime will remain the reality and staff should be compensated accordingly.
I see Police is asking for a reduction of 20% in TOIL accruals this financial year. While I don’t dispute Police is facing tough fiscal constraints, staff need clear direction on what duties they are expected to drop. Otherwise, such reductions in TOIL are pie-in-the-sky dreams that bear no reality to the demand-driven pressures that districts are facing.
By the time you read this edition of Police News, the election special votes will be in, and politicians will be either negotiating a coalition or swearing in a new government with tough financial challenges to face.
In relation to Police, increased demand for service and inflation pressures have blown the operational budget. It is fair to expect Police to review expenditure, but cost cutting is not the answer to delivering the policing that communities demand. Our new government needs to understand this.
Aggravating this is the failure of successive administrations to invest in government department infrastructure, which has come home to roost. More temporary closures of no-longer-fit-for-purpose police stations are hitting the headlines and signal the need for long-term infrastructure investment that is removed from the three-year election cycle, which is failing us all.