Home Secretary quizzed by Federation members

17 May 2016

Nick Smart, Chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation

Nick Smart, Chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation asking a question to the Home Secretary

Home Secretary Theresa May faced tough questioning from the floor by Federation members at our annual conference today, Tuesday 17 May.

Assaults on police:

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Nick Smart (pictured) called for a legislation review for offenders following an acid attack on a Bradford sergeant. “Too often police officers have been badly assaulted but the guilty receive a slap on the wrist as punishment. It is not taken seriously by the courts,” he said, after the sergeant's attacker was sentenced to a derisory 20 months in jail. Ms May said the Home Office was working with the Federation to "look at the issues and gather a much better evidence base’ but more discussions were needed to see a way forward."

Counter terrorism:

Wiltshire sergeant Martin Alvis wanted to know how confident Ms May was that policing could cope with a large-scale terror attack or disaster, as well as the routine demands of day-to-day policing. Ms May insisted that although the terror threat was still severe - meaning an attack is highly likely - the government is looking at capability if another Brussels or Paris incident happened.

She also talked about a ‘significant uplift’ in armed policing, armed response vehicles (ARVs) and counter-terrorism officers, but an officer from Greater Manchester Police urged Ms May to “please reconsider a u-turn on neighbourhood policing." He said: "It is the bedrock of British policing and needs investing in. Intelligence from the street is critical to this procedure. This support is vital to the Counter Terrorism Unit – if they didn’t get it, the consequences would be horrific."

Special constables:
Graham Haygreen, member of the PFEW’s Interim National Board and lead on specials, asked for a commitment to change the law paving the way for specials to be allowed to join the Federation. Ms May insisted that it was up to specials themselves to decide where they themselves think they best fit. Chair Steve White told Ms May: "A lot of our reps already do represent specials. The ones I have spoken to at all levels have expressed a desire to become members of the Federation – but the sticking point is the money. Can money be found from the Home Office for their subscriptions?”