Since starting this blog, in November 2020, we have had contact with a variety of people who have expressed their serious concerns about the state of the BPS. For some this has resulted in their resignation, for others it has left them hurt, damaged and vowing never to have anything more to do with the organisation they have been part of, and given their time freely to, over the years. Some have told us of their immense frustration with an organisation that frequently ignores communications or fails to respond acceptably to their queries and concerns.
Those leading the organisation (both elected and paid) have failed to manage its day-to-day running adequately, and have been, in the main, unable – or unwilling – to deal openly and properly with current and past mismanagement except by deceit and silence. There has been a clear and conscious rejection of any attempt to govern the Society’s business in a professional and open way as is required by the Charity Commission. Financial irregularities have occurred, latterly the subject of police investigation. Staffing numbers and costs have spiralled, lines of accountability are ambiguous or absent, and the overall governing body, the Board of Trustees, has no membership which is in any sense independent, disregarding Charity Common requirements. This is patently a failing organisation. The leadership over many years has failed its members, failed the public and failed psychology as a discipline. The BPS has moved irrevocably to a state of unprecedented crisis.
Our primary aim is simple: to pressurise the Society to change and to be open about the dangerous consequences of its own history of misgovernance. We have no other agenda. A dossier was sent to the Charity Commission containing examples in relation to censorship, various forms of policy capture and a totally broken complaints system. These case studies focused on malfunctioning organisational processes. We are asking for honesty from its current leaders about its past, not simply bland assurances and blithe rhetoric about a potential future.
We wish to see a radically reformed and thriving society but we have no aspirations at all to acquire leadership roles in the future. We do not align ourselves with any particular pressure groups. Contrary to a recent malicious tweet (unsupported by actual evidence or any attempt to check with us) we are in nobody’s pocket or in thrall to any specific group. Ironically, this is exactly the situation which we believe applies to some elements of the BPS itself – institutional capture by activists. Whether other pressure groups like us or not is of no significance to us (unless this refers to the misgovernance question at the centre of our concern). Certain groups may view our existence as a chance to further their aims, but all we may share with them is a concern about misgovernance of the BPS and its consequences.
The fact that we address serious and controversial topics is because we wish to encourage their democratic discussion and a full and open debate. The BPS is routinely failing in this regard. Debate has been suppressed and biased policy formation has then accrued across a wide range of topics. We believe that current and previous BPS leaders have a duty to reject secrecy and reveal honestly where things have gone wrong so that discussion can take place. We are happy to post new examples of these types of failure. but our prime focus is on the malfunctioning organisational processes we have noted above. We are not in the business of “firing bullets” or promoting a particular stance on an issue.
Sadly, we do not believe that real change is imminent within the BPS. Familiar names of serial office holders still move into post or arrive on the Board of Trustees and people are still appointed to working groups by an opaque process from the Society coterie. Despite many expressions of support and agreement with our views, many people feel unable to take their dissatisfaction further. We acknowledge that this is not easy or straightforward. Members have been threatened and intimidated, for example by themselves being accused of intimidation and bullying. Unless the serious and damaging dysfunctionality of the BPS is brought into the spotlight, however, nothing substantial will change. Millions of pounds of members’ money will continue be spent on a so-called Change Programme that fixes nothing whatsoever of the root of dysfunction. So even if you do not feel able to write something for our blog (even with our offer of anonymity), please contact us and we would be happy to advise on what other channels may be open to you.
We have all served the BPS to the best of abilities over the years and care deeply about both its future and the state of psychology in the UK. We will continue to be a critical friend for as long as it is necessary.
BPSWatch Editorial Collective.