Blog: I understand and share members' anger and frustration

30 August 2018

John Apter

As he approaches his first full month in post, National Chair John Apter outlines key areas of work for the organisation going forward.  

At the top of my long list of priorities will always be our members’ pay and conditions, but welfare, resilience (lack of it), and equality are also key areas of work for the Federation moving forward. We are dealing with a government that is out of touch when it comes to the impact of cuts to policing – it is our job to educate them. 

I recognise, understand and share the anger and frustration police officers feel about the government’s failure to honour the recommendations of the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB). We will continue to fight for members’ best interests using the processes we have in place, but we will also regularly review the merits of direct involvement in those forums if those routes are not achieving what we want.

While we must have a working relationship with the Home Office, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing (CoP), I will be holding them to account to make sure they act in our members’ best interests. Just because we want to have a relationship, doesn’t mean we want to be their friend! We must be more passionate, persuasive and proactive in our work, and take our message to the public, who in the main support policing and all that our members do to protect them.

We know, sadly, there are still those who think it is acceptable to assault a police officer. I am proud that following the work led by the Police Federation with the Protect the Protectors campaign, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill is very close to becoming law. While the final Bill wasn’t everything we had called for, it is better than we had and it is a start. We will continue to fight for legislative changes and equipment that safeguards our members.

The safety of police officers is something I am passionate about, I will therefore be pushing for central government funding to be provided for a complete rollout of Taser to those officers who wish to be trained to carry and use it. In addition, we will seek to ensure the complete rollout of spit and bite guards to all police officers.

I also fully support getting better protection for police drivers. Having submitted evidence to the Home Office's police pursuit consultation, we will continue to lobby for the legislative changes required to protect members driving police vehicles when responding to emergency calls or pursuing suspects.

Another vital piece of work for the Federation is championing the wellbeing of our members. Our 2016 demand, capacity and welfare survey revealed that 80% of respondents felt stressed and anxious. We have made encouraging progress in this area and have begun to work with NPCC, CoP, and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in order to agree the next steps.

In the undertaking of our work, it is vital that the organisation reflects those that it represents, therefore equality and diversity will be a key area of focus going forward to ensure we are doing our utmost to enable under-represented voices to be heard. This year’s elections have brought a fair number of new faces into the organisation and it is important that they feel empowered and supported to do their best as representatives.

Our local reps are the backbone of the Federation, they are our unflinching frontline. I will do all I can to make sure they get whatever support they need to give those we represent the best possible service.

There is much to do. Ultimately, in order to be a strong and effective representative body for our members, we must have agreed shared goals and priorities to allow us to speak with one voice and be heard. I truly believe that by working together we can achieve so much.

Follow National Chair John Apter on Twitter @PFEW_Chair.