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Call for federation reform

Most police want the rank and file police ‘union’, the Police Federation to change. That is according to the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Independent Review of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

In a survey by the pollsters by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the review, 91 percent of members surveyed called for the Police Federation to change. The Review Panel called on both local and national leaders of the Federation to embrace the reform package and implement it without delay.

The report raised concerns about the Police Federation’s: lack of openness and transparency about its affairs and finances; weak accountability to members and the public; its inability to promote good behaviour and professional standards; and internal divisions. Members, it says, have lost confidence in it and it is losing its influence in representing its members.

The report said that the federation must provide better value for money for members’ subscriptions and for public resources it receives. It has to increase its professionalism particularly in its standards of behaviour and conduct. It has to become more unified and speak with a single voice.

There are 36 recommendations in the report designed to bring this about. They include: a new ethics, standards and performance process for federation representatives; the publication of all federation accounts and the expenses and hospitality received by officers; a new independent reference group to evaluate how the federation is meeting its public interest obligations; streamlining and professionalisation of federation representative structures; the abolition of separate committees for each rank which have become divisive and create unnecessary cost; and more accountability to members including the direct election of the national chair. It also recommends an initial 25 percent reduction in member subscriptions for at least one year. This would be financed by the abolition of rank committees.

Sir David Normington, Chairman of the Review Panel, said: “We have no doubt that front line police officers need an effective voice to represent their interests. But we are equally clear from the evidence we heard that the federation is not fulfilling that function well enough at the moment and needs major reform. There is an urgent need for it regain the trust of its members, to be much more open and accountable and to adopt the kind of standards of behaviour and conduct which the public expects of police officers. If it is to regain its influence, it must put behind it the internal distrust and divisions which are such a feature of its present operations.

“We were encouraged that the Federation set up the review in the first place and gave us a free hand to report exactly what we found. That gives us encouragement that there is willingness among the current leadership to seize this moment and get on and implement our report. If it does, there is a real opportunity to recreate the professional, trusted, and unified Police Federation which its members so much want, and once again, to become the trusted voice of frontline officers.”

The Review Panel undertook a consultation exercise involving well over 10,000 members, federation staff and representatives, and stakeholders from across the policing world and beyond. The panel reviewed evidence in concluding its analysis and making recommendations for reform. The RSA provided the review secretariat.

Comment

ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde said: “Steve Williams has been determined to modernise the Police Federation so the organisation can effectively represent front line officers since his appointment as chairman in 2012. Today’s review of the federation is an important part of that process. I look forward to continuing to work with Steve as he leads his organisation through these necessary changes.”


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