It is with much disappointment that following the Extraordinary General Meeting on the 30th of March 2017 the BPSCA is to be dissolved. During the meeting it was unanimously agreed that owing to the inability to fill a significant number of positions on the Association Committee, including the Officer posts, and consequently an inability to meet aims, objectives, and liabilities, the BPSCA is to be dissolved in accordance with Section 15 of the BPSCA Constitution.
The Association is an Unincorporated Association, it is a non-profit organisation run by its members for its members. The BPSCA does not provide any form of accreditation to its members or offer any service for payment. Individual members are legally responsible for the acts and omissions of the entire organisation hence the need for a formal constitution. The BPSCA Rule Book was replaced in 2015 with the BPSCA Constitution; this was initiated to protect both the management committee and the members, and bring the management of the Association up to date.
Despite adopting a constitution in 2015 there has been some suggestion from members that the document is outdated or too restrictive regarding membership criteria. However, when it was put before the membership prior to the AGM of 2015 and 2016 no challenges were forthcoming. The document is not outdated, it was drafted with the support of solicitors in 2015 and it is not considered to be restrictive. The document covers the necessary basic requirements for the running of an Unincorporated Association in the UK.
For a number of years the BPSCA has sought to recruit members to join the committee and help run the day-to-day administration and management of the Association. There has been passing interest from both serving and retired dog handlers from all areas, but sadly members have been unable to commit once the demands have been realised. Committee members are unpaid volunteers who give up their own time and for the most part meet their own expenses.
As the committee began to dwindle in numbers multiple demanding responsibilities became the duties of only a few. The division of labour was unbalanced and the Association was surviving only due to the efforts of dedicated and unwavering individuals. Unfortunately, this was not a position that could be sustained over the longer term. The situation became critical on the resignation of the Vice Chairman earlier this year given that he was a key post holder and significant contributor to the management of the BPSCA. The situation was further exasperated by additional resignations from other key post holders.
Given the fragile position of the Association the Chairman rightly called for an EGM and this was supported by all the Officers still serving. At the time of the EGM the Association was without a Membership Secretary, Treasurer, Service Dog Magazine Editor, Website Manager, Social Media Representative, Shop (Merchandise) Manager, and a significant number of other committee seats were vacant.
Despite contacting all association members, via email, posted letter, or the website, only 28% of the whole membership responded, consequently the meeting was very poorly attended. The fact that 72% of members made no contact may reflect the current state of affairs, general apathy, or possibly the relevancy of the Association? Of course there will always be the case that some members did not receive notification despite best efforts to the contrary.
Following a background brief the meeting was opened to the floor and it was clear that none of those in attendance wanted the Association to dissolve, a message also reflected by many of those offering apologies for non-attendance. Many ideas were presented however the reality being that such ideas warranted a complete and dedicated committee. Additionally, a significant number of the ideas offered necessitated the change of status from an Unincorporated Association to Incorporated Association placing far greater liabilities and stricter rules on potential directors and shareholders.
In any case the presentation of new ideas, however dynamic or progressive, was viewed as aspirational when presented with a severely diminished committee unable to achieve, without complication, the basic demands of an Unincorporated Association.
Some former committee members offered to seek re-election to the committee in order to fill gaps whilst new members could be recruited. However, this was viewed as unacceptable as the reasons for their personal resignations had not changed, were unlikely to change in the future, and for want of a better expression was simply sticking a plaster over a gaping wound.
All members present were asked to act with objectivity rather than with emotion. After much discussion a decision was finally reached to dissolve the Association. The conclusion to the discussion being the protection of the Association through dissolution preferable to allowing the Association to be potentially mismanaged in the future leading to a loss of identity.
With immediate effect the BPSCA ceases to exist as an Unincorporated Association with a subscribing membership. As such all memberships are terminated from the date of the EGM and the Association is placed in a position of stasis existing in name only for the foreseeable future.
The Association Committee is now disbanded; however, the existing President and Chairman will remain as Officers of the Association designate. This means that they are President and Chairman in waiting and will resume their posts should the Association membership ever be reformed. The Honorary Secretary will remain the trustee of the Association protecting its interests, its existence, and potential future re-emergence as a sustainable Association with membership.
All intellectual property remains the property of the Association, including the rights to the name ‘British Police & Services Canine Association’. The Honorary Secretary will remain the trustee of all intellectual property belonging to the BPSCA; all rights are reserved and full copyright remains extant. Former members are to be aware that use of the Association logo is no longer permissible.
Formal closure procedures have commenced and all members have been sent a letter with edition No 79 of the Service Dog Magazine. Further details and notices regarding the closure will appear on the Association website in due course. All former members are advised to check for such notices on www.bpsca.net, no further correspondence will be sent by post.
It will take time to close down the Association in an appropriate manner and tasks will be prioritised accordingly. In the future consideration will be given towards the issuing of refunds, conditions will apply, and details will be promulgated through the website in due course. On final reckoning any outstanding generated monies will be donated in accordance with the BPSCA Constitution.
Existing BPSCA social media outlets administrated by third parties will no longer represent the Association in any way. The administrators have been contacted and politely requested to park the media outlets only to be reopened in the event that BPSCA membership is ever reformed.
The Service Dog magazine will no longer be published or distributed.
The BPSCA Dog Trials have been suspended indefinitely.
The BPSCA was formed in 1988 by a group of committed individuals who wanted to bring people together to build friendships and to exchange ideas. Since that time it has grown in both stature and reputation maintaining a prime place amongst other likeminded organisations whilst remaining as a non-profit organisation. Despite the fact that it was healthy in every way it became impossible to manage such a high profile Association without a dedicated and capable team of volunteers. Over the 29 years that the Association has existed much has changed both in society and the professional backdrops from which member’s herald. The Association enjoyed the journey but trying to keep it relevant and ethical proved to be a journey too far. It is safe to assume that there will be much disappointment regarding the dissolution of the Association, regrettably it was unavoidable. If it is meant to be the Association will re-emerge in the future stronger and wiser for the experience. In the meantime I wish all former members the very best.
S P HESMONDHALGH
Honorary Secretary & Legal Secretary
(Trustee of the British Police & Services Canine Association)