A double hit this week with reports on police pay and conditions and public sector pensions.
Several of the posts on this website are critical of police for the supposed extravagant allowances and other bits of extra pay it is suggested officers get.
Like many in the service I do think there are elements to our pay and conditions which are anachronistic or otherwise due for updating.
However, there is also a lot of misinformation and mischievous reporting.
For example the point about officers being able to claim overtime for a brief phone call when off duty.
That may be true but I don’t know anyone who has claimed that allowance and many probably don’t even know about it.
That's part of the problem.
The current arrangements have been developed over a very long period but through rather piece-meal and sometimes poorly planned changes often driven by different political, public and financial pressures. That means the regulations and conditions are complex, poorly understood and inconsistently followed.
Truth is there is probably lots more that could be claimed by individuals but which isn't. Did you see the comment that we should publish details about when senior officers use first class travel? I know several colleagues who wouldn't dream of taking 1st class travel even if they are entitled to it.
That sort of issue may attract media attention but it's not really what this debate needs to be about.
I hope this time the changes are more coherent and can be seen to be fair to officers and staff. Fairness for me means that we still recognise the special nature of the office of constable and the special role police officers and many police staff fulfil. That doesn’t mean unjustified protectionist measures, nor 'favouritist' treatment in comparison to plenty of other public servants during this time of austerity. This is a time to be bold about how the whole country gets itself out of the current financial mess and policing has a part to play in that.
Of course that part may also be one which has to keep communities safe in the face of growing public unease and maybe demonstration about some of the changes being considered and implemented. There will be great strength of feeling about some of the proposals and I can understand why. What I don’t want to see is that concern being fuelled by misinformation or politically motivated rhetoric. It worries me that we might see a wedge being driven between police and public and even between different elements within the police.
The arrival of elected police commissioners in April 2012 adds another element into the mix. When the country faces general uncertainty and individual worry then it's not a time to have a police service which is collectively and individually demotivated.
There's no reason for that to happen if we can avoid the distraction of ill-informed comment and we keep together as a service and keep together with the public and the communities we serve now and will continue to serve to the best of our ability.