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Why we support calls for a Police Covenant

Friday, 03 February 2017

Following the launch of Police Oracle’s BluePrint campaign, national Chair Steve White explains why there needs to be changes in policing.

Last week Police Oracle launched BluePrint – a campaign that calls on the government to fulfil its duty of protecting officers, both in the job and when they have been forced out of the service due to physical injuries or mental trauma.

We spoke to them ahead of this, and told them the Federation would absolutely support such a campaign. And who said the media and police can’t work together?!

A policing-specific news website, Police Oracle says it wants to back officers and will lobby politicians, launch a petition and call on extended police family for support. They want to see a Police Covenant established to help grieving families when all other doors remain closed – we couldn’t agree more.

British policing is revered the world over. Ever since Sir Robert Peel set the foundations of modern day policing, the service has never lost sight of the enduring principle that ‘the police are the public, and the public are the police’.

The profession remains one that offers unique, wide-ranging opportunities, chosen by those with a desire to help others. However, for many it is no longer a long-term career.

Pressures of the job have been exasperated in recent years with ever increasing demand as police forces try to do more with less. It’s not simply the demand caused by reducing officer numbers, (over 21,000 fewer since 2010), but demand caused by the changing face of crime and picking up the pieces from cuts across the public sector. If someone doesn’t know who to call, more often than not they’ll try the police.

Our members, through our recent Pay and Morale Survey, have told us that how they are treated is the biggest factor for why morale is so low across the service. The reality of what they face day in, day out, is becoming startlingly clear as our work to fully understand the level of assaults on officers continues.

Perhaps more worrying is that they are now telling us it’s not a vocation they would recommend to others.

For years officers accepted the restrictions the job has on their private lives and those of their families. They felt valued and appreciated. But changes to their terms and conditions of service in recent years have undone this.

The ever increasing strain of the job is taking its toll on the majority and the ultimate toll on a few. Support for officers is often inaccessible and inconsistent. The government must commit to ensuring those charged with protecting the public are rightfully protected themselves.

The Federation works to fight for officers’ rights, liaising with Government to challenge and change policies and influence legislation. Our campaign to Protect the Protectors starts in earnest next week and is just one area where we are seeking to change legislation so that police officers who are assaulted in the course of their duties are afforded better protection.

We also work to help boost morale – we know the majority of the public support the police – and our Believe in Blue campaign demonstrates this with a never ending stream of stories of brave actions, of officers going beyond their duties and the thanks that gets from the public.

But it is not just overt work – we also work behind the scenes, bringing together charities that can offer help to police officers and their families in times of need, now more important than ever.  So we welcome Police Oracle’s campaign which encompasses all of this and hope you will all get behind it and stand up and be counted. For there is no finer police service than the British police service and we must ensure that the sacrifices officers make to serve their communities – often at the detriment to themselves and their families - are recognised.

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