Members matter – bringing the national Federation to the front line
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
National Chair Steve White and East Midlands representative Phill Matthews visited Nottingham on 18 October to speak to members directly about the challenges they face day-to-day and how the Federation can help.
Some of our members have told us they feel their national representatives are faceless and distant, so we are coming to meet as many of you as we can. Over the coming months, myself and other national reps will be travelling to forces to hear what matters to our members first-hand.
Last week I visited Nottingham. I asked every group of officers I met the same question: aside from pay and conditions, and pensions (which are at the fore of PFEW’s work), what are the two most important issues to you?
Access to Taser and more resources were the most frequently raised points. Nottingham has suffered a huge amount with the loss of hundreds of officers in recent years, due in no small part to the way the police force funding formula works, or rather doesn't. As a result Nottingham suffers more than most, with the force stretched so thin that officers out on patrol alone understandably feel vulnerable.
Taser remains a priority for the Federation and we continue to drive the message home nationally. Slowly but surely Chiefs are coming around to further roll out – Devon and Cornwall are considering doubling their number of Taser-trained officers, and West Mercia are also looking at an uplift.
The issue of a new police force funding formula still needs to be resolved by the Home Office, so that no force is placed at an unfair disadvantage. It won’t be an easy task, but it is an essential one, so that officers on single-crew patrol, attending violent domestics without back-up (as one officer told me), will have some peace of mind.
Every member I spoke to told me they thought PFEW was doing OK. A fair few had been helped through difficult misconduct proceedings by the Nottinghamshire Federation team, but many did not realise where else we can offer support and advice – welfare and personal issues, health and safety, injury at work, grievances and discriminatory harassment, to name a few.
The Federation is working hard to be better at reaching members and telling them about services it provides other than access to legal advice. Our members pay a subscription to the Federation and expect, quite rightly, a high level of service. The Federation is slowly becoming the cohesive organisation that it needs to be in order to be most effective - more joined up, stronger in unity and voice, and streamlined in terms of money and resources.
There is nothing I enjoy more than speaking directly with our members and I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible over the coming months. In the meantime, I am always keen to hear from the officers we represent. If you would like to contact me you can via firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Keen, Nottinghamshire Federation Chair:
"Among the important issues Nottinghamshire members raised during Steve’s visit was a call for further Taser roll out to front-line officers. Our stance on Taser at the local Federation is clear; this is our main priority due to the safety of our officers, many of whom single-crew regularly. Our members talked about feeling increasingly vulnerable because there are not enough officers to provide support on more dangerous jobs.
"We have been speaking to management about Taser for a long time and I am pleased to say we are making significant progress. Having met recently with the Chief Constable, I feel we have put a renewed and persuasive case forward and will keep our members updated.
"Many also said they would like support in areas such as mental health and stress management. We are always looking at ways we can have a positive influence on our officers’ welfare. Also, through us at the local Federation, members can access the PFEW’s Welfare Support Programme - a 24/7 helpline for officers who are suspended, under gross misconduct investigation or involved in a post incident investigation. We are also able to refer officers if they have particular issues for which the support line can help them.
“We always welcome feedback form our officers. If you would like more information about the Welfare Support Programme or you would like to get in contact with us, you can here.”
If you would like to know more about when the national Federation is visiting your area, please contact your local Federation.