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Chief Cheetah

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  1. 19 December 2018 National Chair John Apter Efforts to combat a surge in knife crime are being undermined by inconsistent and lenient court sentences, argues PFEW National Chair John Apter. According to the Sky report latest figures show that two-thirds of those carrying a knife escape a custodial sentence and one-in-five repeat offenders are still avoiding prison, despite the government introducing a "two-strikes and you're out" policy for those caught with a knife on more than one occasion. National Chair John Apter, said: "For far too long, we've been soft on those who carry knives and those who inflict injuries with knives. A tougher approach to sentencing is urgently needed. "We need to step up our game as a country and demonstrate that carrying a knife is completely unacceptable. "That's where the law must step in and there must be a consequence. "There's got to be a consequence, because without that consequence, this epidemic in knife crime will continue and these kids will keep getting murdered on our streets." In the year to September, more than 21,300 knife and offensive weapon offences were dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales, including around 4,500 committed by children. Mr Apter continued: "I believe strongly in rehabilitation of offenders, people should have chances. "But there are some people who just need to be locked up, they need to be punished, there needs to be a consequence for their action. "We hear all too often about these offenders, who dress up in a suit for their annual court appearance, they stand in front of a magistrate or a judge and they're given a slap on the wrist. "As they turn around, they're laughing, literally they are laughing, they are taking advantage of a soft system and it's a disgrace, it's letting down the public and it's letting down the victims." View the full article
  2. 18 December 2018 Despite the challenges facing policing, officers across England and Wales have continued to deliver the very best service they can to the public. This year has been a momentous one for the Federation. The reform programme that we started three years ago concluded with the election of reps, a new national Council and Board, and the first national Chair elected by the members, all keen to ensure your views are heard. 2018 has seen notable successes for the Federation. Our ‘Protect the Protectors’ campaign resulted in legislation change that will see harsher sentences given to those who attack police officers and other blue light workers. We continue to press for better legal protection for police drivers so that they can do their job knowing that the law is on their side, should they be involved in an incident during a high speed pursuit when protecting the public. These big bits of work are important but I want to recognise the work that goes on at a local level, often unseen but just as important. Local Fed Reps across England and Wales are the backbone of the Police Federation and it’s their work which makes the lives of our members that little bit easier. The year ahead will have many challenges, not least because of the political uncertainties that the country now finds itself in. Issues over adequate funding and resourcing of policing will remain, but be assured the Federation is fighting hard to see new money for policing in next year’s Comprehensive Spending Review. I will continue to challenge the decision makers on your behalf to make sure your voice is heard. I will never shy away from doing this. Our Did you know? campaign has started well and it will be central to the Federation’s work in 2019 highlighting to you, our members, what you are entitled to claim under current police regulations. What I am certain about is that policing will continue to step-up to the mark - it always has done in order to protect the communities in which we serve. Policing doesn’t stop for Christmas. But when officers do have that chance for a break I would like them to reflect on the great work that they have accomplished this year. The lives saved, the people cared for, the advice given, safety maintained, the laws upheld and the criminals brought to justice. Our police officers are the very best there is - we must never be quiet about saying it. And this is to my colleagues. If you are working over the festive period I hope you have a safe shift, please look after each other. For those lucky to have some time-off, enjoy it and make the most of your family time. Being the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales is an honour. To be your voice is a privilege and one I will never take for granted. I will continue to fight for you, I will be there for you. Wishing you and your families a very happy Christmas. Please stay safe. [embedded content] View the full article
  3. 17 December 2018 A decision on how to address the public service pension cost cap breach reported by HM Treasury in September of this year is expected in early in 2019. The Government Actuary Department’s (GAD) draft actuarial valuation report for the police pension schemes indicates that employer contributions need to increase for the period 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2023 and also that the cost of the schemes are not on target. The public service pension scheme cost cap is designed to limit the cost to the taxpayer of providing pensions to public service workers. The target level of the cap is set as a percentage of pensionable payroll. If a valuation shows that costs have risen or fallen by more than 2%, action must be taken to redress the balance. In this case the costs have fallen by more than 2%. The Home Office and Police Pension Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) are currently in discussions and must seek to reach an agreement on how to proceed in January. Our National Secretary Alex Duncan said: “Scheme members - including the Police Federation of England and Wales - have been consulted via the SAB. We are considering the options available, but we will ultimately be pushing for what is in the best interests of our members.” There are currently more than five million active members of the public service pension schemes, which cover the police, NHS, teachers, the armed forces, firefighters, local government workers, judiciary and civil servants. Take a look at our pension cap FAQs for more information. View the full article
  4. 13 December 2018 National Chair John Apter The news that the Government is planning to plug the funding gap in policing by increasing local taxes has been slammed by the Police Federation of England and Wales. National Chair John Apter (pictured right) welcomed the extra cash but insisted the Government ‘had to be honest about what it actually means.’ He said: “The truth is that this appears to be a quick fix. A sticking plaster solution that injects extra money in the short term, but one which sees the burden falling unfairly on local council tax payers. “They are passing the buck of funding the police service to the public by doubling the council tax precept that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are allowed to charge.” Mr Apter insisted that any extra cash raised this way should be strictly ring-fenced for local policing. “Every penny of this extra council tax precept must go into local policing to help keep communities safe,” he said. But he accused the Government of ignoring the ‘bigger elephant in the room.’ Today Policing Minister Nick Hurd announced that police funding would benefit from an extra £970 million for 2019/20 which includes £153 million towards the police pension deficit. It also allows for £509m if every PCC raises their council tax precept by £2 a month, or £24 a year. And there is another £161m from central Government funding towards the police service. Mr Apter said: “It is good that the Government has recognised that the pension cap breach was of their own making and the other funding will give forces some breathing space. “But it is their austerity policies which have seen police budgets slashed by 19% in real terms. This is why policing is in crisis and our members are on their knees trying to keep up with the rising tide of crime with nearly 22,000 fewer officers. “The reality is that this new funding won’t lead to hundreds more officers on the streets and PCCs and Chief Constables have to be honest about that. This is a standstill policing budget – it will plug the gap to a degree but householders are unlikely to experience a tangible improvement in their area. “What is needed now is long-term financial investment in the service to pull it back from the brink so that we can start being more proactive again, ploughing more resources back into things that matter to the public, like neighbourhood policing and the frontline, and building better relationships to keep local communities safe.” View the full article
  5. 13 December 2018 PFEW Operational Policing Lead Simon Kempton The first full year’s-worth of Police Use of Force statistics have been published. In April 2017 the Home Office introduced new forms aimed at providing an accurate record of the type and frequency of officers’ use force on a day to day basis. Every time an officer uses any type of force they must report the details. The figures - which cover April 2017 to March 2018 - show that there were 313,000 recorded incidents in which a police officer used force on someone, with restraint tactics such as handcuffing being the most common type of force used (286,000 times). The most frequent reason given by officers for the need to use force was to protect themselves (214,000 incidents) and the most common impact factor was the subject being drunk. However the report acknowledges these figures are not an accurate representation of the total number of incidents involving force as not all of the 43 forces in England and Wales could provide data across the full year. Simon Kempton, Operational Policing lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales says although they do not give a full picture they certainly provide a sense of what police officers face day in day out. “The decision to use force of any type is never taken lightly by any officer, and all use of force must be lawful, necessary and reasonable in all circumstances,” he said. “However it can be the only option when officers need to protect themselves, or members of the public, from dangerous or violent people and the data clearly demonstrates that my colleagues only resort to the use of force where it’s necessary, utilising the minimum level required to deal with the situation." The figures show that the percentage of incidents dramatically decreases as the level of force increases. There were 17,000 incidents where a Taser was drawn, of those 2,000 instances where it was discharged. For firearms the figure was 3,100 incident where a weapon was drawn and just 12 where it was fired. Mr Kempton continued: “It is vitally important that these statistics are collated but it is even more important that they are analysed so the training that officers are provided with appropriately mirrors the situations they are encountering on the street. “They also help inform the policy surrounding tactics and the provision of protective equipment such as Taser and spit guards which are two central issues for the Federation.” While Mr Kempton welcomes the collection of this data he still has concerns around the methods by which it is gathered. He continued: “Good progress has been made but more needs to be done. The report highlights the disparity in the way officers record this information. Some officers are still having to complete pages of questions which can take more than 20 minutes whereas in other areas such as the Metropolitan Police the form takes around two to three minutes. “Many forces are moving to the on-line forms but this can only be viable if they have the IT systems which can support this method and that is not the case in every force. What we need is standardisation across the forces so that all officers complete the same form as efficiently as possible.” View the full article
  6. 10 December 2018 Lincs PCC wearing Spit guard Around 70 frontline officers are already trained in the use of this vital piece of protective equipment - more officers having access to this is welcome news. This news follows a successful trial in police custody, with the decision made to extend the use of spit and bite guards to help protect police officers and staff from the abhorrent and vile act of spitting and biting. It is expected that the guards will be in police vehicles initially, but if the need arises, they may become standard individual issue. Mike Harrison, Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation said: “As a Federation we welcome their introduction and feel all officers should have access to the necessary and appropriate equipment to do their job. We have worked with the force to ensure the roll-out takes place as quickly as possible and we are grateful to the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for agreeing the necessity for and deployment of the guards. “We also hope that sentencing for offenders who commit such a vile act is reflected by the courts and treated with the severity it so deserves.” Responding to this latest news, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) John Apter said: “This is good news and a decision I fully support. Gloucestershire Constabulary rolling-out more spit and bite guards will give our officers better protection - but we need to see all forces doing so. 40 forces have rolled-out this equipment to officers, including British Transport Police as well as Police Scotland. “I would urge those few remaining Chief Constables who have not issued this invaluable equipment to do the right thing and give their officers the kit they need to protect themselves. “Our officers do a tough job, they face violence day in day out, this equipment will help prevent them being spat at which is a vile offence. They need this kit, it’s not a nice thing to have its essential and we know the vast majority of the public support them having it.” View the full article
  7. 08 December 2018 Fallen officers hat memorial PFEW has donated nearly a quarter of a million pounds towards the UK Police Memorial Project. The Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire will be a physical symbol of remembrance for all those offers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The build is due to begin next year and provides a physical place for visitors to pay their respects. PFEW National Chair, John Apter, said the Federation was “fully supportive of the plans to build a police memorial” which will “complement the other memorials across the country.” “Police officers face danger and some of life’s most unpleasant jobs in order that a civilised society such as ours can operate and we must never take it for granted that a small number of those never make it home at the end of their shifts,” he said. “We have already collectively donated a considerable sum of money to this project and look forward to seeing it develop. In addition we continue to honour those officers who have given their lives through the yearly donation of £30,000 to the national police memorial in the Mall, as well as playing an active part in the organisation and promotion of annual National Police Memorial Day which honours fallen officers in a humbling and fitting ceremony.” Recent news reports suggesting that PFEW was not supportive of the project and “gone back on its word” to provide an additional £750,000 towards the project were inaccurate and disingenuous, PFEW said. John continued: “This is absolutely not the case and I have personally been a supporter of this project. While we have been asked to give a further £760,000 towards the project, at this stage we have no immediate plans to donate any more than we already have. We are currently operating at a deficit budget and while this is reduced significantly over the last two years, what is in reserves is approximately less than ones years’ operating costs and it would be wrong of us if we were to give a significant amount of money away and then not be able to fund cases in support of our members, or as a result then be required to put up subscription rates which have currently been frozen for eight years. "Following the independent review we have been through an incredible amount of reform and we now have a financial governance structure which rightly means that funding requests of this nature have to be formally made to the board and council for a decision. “We continue to support this project and we look forward to seeing it develop and a fitting memorial be unveiled.” Please read FAQs for further reference View the full article
  8. 05 December 2018 PFEW Firearms Lead Steve Hartshorn As the debate about armed officers patrolling our streets hits the headlines again our new Firearms lead Steve Hartshorn explains why he’s thinks firearms officers need all the support they can get. The latest crime figures show that serious violent crime in this county has again increased. The question uttered by everyone from police officers to politicians, from judges to grieving parents is how do we combat this catastrophic crime trend? If I’m honest I don’t profess to have the all the answers, if there was a panacea I am sure it would have been implemented by now, although I’m fairly sure that the decrease in police officer numbers is directly linked to the rise. I was taught prevention is better than cure – but prevention cannot always be quantified so is often disregarded. What we do need is more local engagement between the public and police to break down barriers. You often hear parents telling children to behave or the police will ‘take them away’. Surely they should be teaching them to talk to police and normalise the interaction – something some adults could also try! One option is to increase the number of armed officers on our streets as a visible deterrent, but traditionally that’s not an approach the public - or indeed warranted officers - have favoured. Armed policing always seems to capture the media’s attention. Just this week the bulletins were packed with the news of AFOs having to take the difficult decision to shoot a suspect in South West London. This comes just days after Cressida Dick – the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police – seemed to suggest that armed officers could soon be seen on foot patrol in high crime areas in London. And although her assistant commissioner later clarified that this did not equate to a change of policy and that any deployments would be “for a limited time only and consultation with local commanders” and after community impact assessments had been carried out - it got me thinking about why the mere suggestion of having armed police officers on foot patrol could cause such a media storm? And about the relatively small number of armed officers who are tasked with actually performing this difficult role? Firearms officers do a unique job within policing in England and Wales. Let’s not sugar-coat the pill, they are trained to deal with immediate threats to life and every time they sign out their weapons they realise there is possibility that one day they may be required to pull the trigger. That may well mean that a person dies and such decisions are never taken lightly. They are an extraordinary group of men and women and I was lucky to have been one of the few to have performed this role as an Armed Response Officer. It is so important for me as Firearms Lead for the Federation that I represent them to the best of my ability. I take over the role from PFEW Vice Chair, Ché Donald and I would like to give my upmost thanks to him – he has done so much for armed officers in England and Wales and pay tribute to him for all his hard work. I know what it takes do this specialist role, the physical and mental toll it can take - not only the officers themselves but their family and friends as well. I want to ensure they have all the support and assistance they need. Full firearms kit, depending on the role or deployment, can tip the scales at up to four stone (25kg). Add to that the weight of expectation heaped on you by the service and society alike, it’s certainly a heavy burden to shoulder. I do have a real concerns about what the reaction of society, the media and investigators alike would be if/when officers have to shoot a young person in possession of a lethal weapon. No doubt the pressure on them will increase and may well further harm the ongoing work to recruit and retain other armed officers. I consider being a firearms officer the best job in policing but I know there are times when it can feel like the worst job in the world. As soon as an officer discharges their weapon they know every thought in their decision making process and every millisecond of their actions will be analysed to the Nth degree during an investigation which can take months or even years to conclude. They are often restricted from firearms roles, unable to do the job they trained for, just for doing to job they trained for. It can be a very lonely place and the work the Police Firearms Officers’ Association (PFOA) and the Federation does with the Welfare Support Programme is so vital. I know for a fact this scheme has saved lives. I am dedicated to ensuring Post Incident Procedures are the best they possibly can be to make sure that the officers involved are safeguarded and their welfare paramount during what can be an incredibly stressful time. The decision to shoot someone is never taken casually and the officer, their families and everyone effected, will experience the ramifications of a split second decision for the rest of their lives. So I am here to be their voice, and their representative, to make sure that we as a Federation – working with the PFOA and others - do all we can to help and support those officers who choose to take on this unique role in protecting our society. View the full article
  9. 04 December 2018 The Police Federation of England and Wales’ (PFEW) successful campaigning on behalf of members has resulted in a trio of awards. At the 2018 CorpComms Awards on Thursday, PFEW won Best Integrated Campaign for ‘Protect the Protectors’, beating competition from the Guardian Media Group, Virgin Media and the Church of England. Our campaign exposed the unacceptably high number of assaults against the emergency services and successfully lobbied MPs to bring about a change in the law – to enable magistrates to double the maximum sentence. A day later, PFEW also won gold for Best Use of Content and Outstanding In-House Public Relations Team at the PRide Awards, run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). National Chair, John Apter, said: “This is a fantastic trio of wins for the Federation, and a real testament to the passion and dedication we have on behalf of our members. The success we have achieved as part of the ongoing Protect the Protectors campaign is something I’m particularly proud of. This campaign has made a difference and will continue to do so.” PFEW received the CIPR’s Best Use of Content Award, beating runner up the Great Western Railway, for ‘The Reality of Policing’ – this video told in a fly-on-the-wall style, powerfully and emotively illustrated the daily challenges police officers face. [embedded content] It highlighted a number of issues important to policing – from the impact cuts has had on the service, to the volume of assaults on officers, and the toll pressures are taking on officer wellbeing and mental health. Launched at PFEW’s national conference in May, its primary purpose was to present this reality to Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The video was subsequently shared over a million times on social media, thanks in part to the @UKCopHumour promoting the video to its 57,300 strong Twitter followers. View the full article
  10. 04 December 2018 PFEW National Chair John Apter A public poll exposes the scale of the crisis facing police forces with almost half of the population saying they have never seen a police officer patrolling the beat at night. The poll, carried out by the Daily Express, shows overwhelming public support to reverse the savage cuts to policing budgets and reveals 81% of the public are more concerned about being a victim of crime than they were five years ago. In response to the findings, PFEW National Chair, said: “The findings from this poll reflect the reality of the epidemic policing now finds itself in. But what will it take for the government to end this national scandal of allowing policing to deteriorate into a crisis situation? “How many times do we have to repeat the message before it sinks in? We are saying it, politicians and police leaders are saying it and now the public are too. “What world do we live in where people are now increasingly fearful for their safety? Cuts to frontline policing has resulted in the closure of many police stations across England and Wales along with reductions of neighbourhood officers. Both things key in providing visible reassurance to communities and acting as a deterrent for violent crime. “Sadly, seeing a police officer patrolling our streets is becoming a rare sight - 40% of people who answered the survey said they had never seen an officer on a routine patrol in their neighbourhood at night time. “If the government continue to sit back and do nothing there will be dire consequences and I do not want to find myself in the position of saying ‘we told you so’." The poll also revealed that 73% of the public agree that the government should increase the wages of frontline police officers. John Apter continued: “Our hardworking officers are at breaking point working all the hours around the clock to keep the public safe – but they are burning out and getting paid very little for the privilege. Many are struggling to provide for their families and are resulting to food banks to feed their children. This is no way to treat out serving men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. “We have fought for years for officers to be fairly paid for the extremely dangerous and demanding jobs they do. And after years of being ignored we have found ourselves with no other option than to take legal action against our own government. A government who refuse to acknowledge the recommendations of their own Police Pay Remuneration Body. How has it come to this?” Last month the appalling way police funding has been handled by the Government came under the spotlight yet again when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published their report. The report concluded that public confidence has been ‘severely dented’ as police forces have to reprioritise work in response to funding cuts. And it accuses the Government of having a ‘depressing, poor understanding’ about the impact of its funding regime. The PAC echoed what we at the Police Federation have been saying for years; namely that police funding has been slashed by nearly 20% since 2010 with a consequent loss of nearly 22,000 officers nationally. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, those with the powers need to take urgent action and show that they value the public’s safety by throwing police a lifeline before it’s too late. “I want to thank the public for their support for policing. We share the public’s concerns and pleased they have spoken out in support of their police officers. I just hope they are not accused of scaremongering by this Prime Minister as we have been when we dare raise our concerns!” John concluded. View the full article
  11. 01 December 2018 Council tax payers could foot the bill for an increase in police budgets Media reports suggest the Government is preparing to announce £600m extra money for policing to pull the service back from the brink of disaster. However, we understand that any extra money is likely to come from an increase in council tax rather than from central budgets, which we believe would be a mistake. PFEW National Chair, John Apter, explains: “While we welcome every extra penny that goes into policing, the government’s decision to pass the buck to Police and Crime Commissioners is grossly unfair. It means the bulk of any increases in police budgets will fall on council tax payers, with no guarantees that PCCs will implement the rises. We also risk creating a two tier system where wealthier communities will have more money available for local policing than others. Media sources say the Home Secretary and Chancellor are poised to allow the police precept on council tax bills to double to an average of £2 a month per household from April 2019. This could raise around £450m nationally, while the Treasury would also put in £170m to help plug the black hole in police officer pensions. Pressure on the Government to increase police funding has ramped up following the horrific spate of knife attacks in the Capital and elsewhere this year. Mr Apter continued: “We have been warning for some time of a law and order crisis in this country caused by years of cuts and chronic under-funding of our police forces. If these increases are confirmed I have little doubt they will be spun to suggest the government is supporting the police. This would be misleading, the reality is they are passing the responsibility to local Police and Crime Commissioners who have to pass on any increase to the public. This is wrong and will be seen for what it is.” John gave an interview with BBC Breakfast earlier today in which he warned against raised expectations new money will lead to more officers on the streets - this is likely to "sustain policing but not add to it", he said. View the full article
  12. 27 November 2018 National Chair John Apter The Prime Minister and Home Secretary “should hang their heads in shame” says the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales as a highly critical report concludes that the mental health system in this country is broken and it is the police who are left to pick up the pieces. The assessment, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) paints a damning picture of the situation facing those experiencing mental-health issues in England and Wales. It makes it clear that, while the police service is doing the best it can in difficult circumstances, there are concerns over whether the police should be involved in responding to mental health problems at the current level. And emphasises the need for a radical rethink and a longer-term solution to what has become what it calls “a national crisis”. Responding to the report – authoured by HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham and published today (27 November) – National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) John Apter said: “The very title of this report – ‘Picking up the Pieces’ gives you a good idea of the situation facing my members, and I welcome Ms Billingham’s frank assessment which reflects the reality of what we are experiencing every day. “She acknowledges we are the service of last resort, the organisation which cannot refuse to go when we are called, the people who fill the 5-9 gap left by other agencies; and that it is placing an ‘intolerable burden’ on police officers. “The government’s austerity policies have led us to this dire state. I hope the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary read this report and hang their heads in shame at the situation they have not only created, but were warned about on numerous occasions. “It is not right for anyone – officers or the public – that the police should be responsible for the safety and welfare of people that other professionals would be better placed to deal with. “We are police officers not social workers or medical experts,” said Mr Apter. The report assessed how effectively police forces in England and Wales as well as the British Transport Police: identify people with mental health problems and when they first contacted the force dentify and record the number of cases involving people with mental health problems to provide the right support make sure expert help is available from other organisations, in particular health professionals. It has made five recommendations which it wants implemented by December 2019 which include the formulation of a new nationally accepted definition of mental ill-health, an evaluation of each forces mental health triage services and a review of all forces mental health training programmes. Overall the report praised officers for their actions and found that they responded to those with mental health problems with care and compassion. It also found that there was strong leadership and governance on mental health across most forces. And well-established partnerships across the country to support the most vulnerable in society, the most widespread of which is a mental health triage system to manage mental health demand and respond better to people in crisis. Additionally, police officers had a good understanding of how to respond to those with mental health problems and feedback from partner organisations recognised the empathy officers showed in supporting those with mental health problems. But Ms Billingham also acknowledged that crisis care for those experiencing mental ill-health should not be the responsibility of the police service. She said: “We cannot expect the police to pick up the pieces of a broken mental health system. “Over-stretched and all-too-often overwhelmed police officers can’t always respond appropriately, and people in mental health crisis don’t always get the help they need. “People in crisis with mental health problems need expert support – support that can’t be carried out in the back of a police car or by locking them into a police cell. “All too often, the system is failing people when they most need help. This is not a problem that the police alone can solve. Other services need to stop relying on the 24/7 availability of the police,” she said. Mr Apter continued: “Society can be measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable. As ever, my members are doing their very best and providing a high standard of care in increasingly difficult circumstances. “But the police service cannot be a panacea for society’s problems. Something must be done to alleviate this situation and it must be done now,” he concluded. View the full article
  13. 23 November 2018 Conduct Lead Phill Matthews Federation Conduct Lead Phill Matthews take a look at the draconian disciplinary process and suggests a solution to end the stress for officers Imagine being sent for medical tests and then waiting seven years to get the results. Yet that’s the type of wait causing unimaginable stress and trauma being put on our members when they are being investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC). For investigations of six, seven, even ten years are not uncommon...the list of investigations with excessive timescales is endless, which is why we are calling for a statutory time limit for bringing disciplinary procedures against police officers. For too long the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission), its successor the IOPC, and some Professional Standards Departments have been allowed to let officers languish needlessly and unreasonably while investigations progress at a glacial pace. While coroners’ inquests can add some delay in cases involving deaths, in the majority of instances there is little or no acceptable explanation for why they have taken so long. And at present there is no way of holding investigating authorities to account for how long they spend on the process. The most contentious cases are often the ones that end up in dispute, in particular when the IOPC directs forces to hold hearings. We cannot state that these never end in findings against officers, but we can point to a recent FOI request showing that a staggering 71% of all Directions in the past five years ended without any type of finding against the officers concerned. This obviously highlights the waste of time, effort and money currently spent pursuing cases in an untimely fashion, all the time needlessly putting the officers concerned through a protracted hell. In extreme cases officers have been prevented from retiring and left unable to move on with their lives or a new career. The impact on these officers cannot be underestimated; it has a profound effect: mentally, physically and often financially, not just for themselves but also for the families they need to lean on. Their lives can spiral downhill and the evidence shows that the longer these investigations continue, the health and wellbeing of the accused officer deteriorates rapidly. In extreme cases, officers have been driven to attempt suicide. If they are placed on restricted duties or suspended, not only will their fellow colleagues be put under additional pressures because of gaps in the frontline but can also suffer from loss of morale. And if the officer concerned eventually returns, they will need re-training. Which is patently unfair. This does not happen in any other profession, which is why we are calling for an overhaul of the system to bring in a time limit. If a case is worth progressing, then it should be done swiftly, for all involved. Not just for the officers but also for the complainants and their relatives who face the same issues and are left short-changed by seeing no end in sight and no explanation forthcoming. We believe the IOPC is trying to address this, and have seen some evidence of progress; we have been lobbying the IPCC since before and during its transition to the IOPC. But although there are signs of a shift from punishment as the automatic default sanction to a more progressive culture of performance and learning, we do not believe that any positive development can be left purely to chance. Drastic reform or legislation is what is needed to halt this drift and we would like to see timelines imposed in line with other statutory instruments; for example, summary-only cases like most traffic offences and common assaults have a six-month limit on proceedings being brought. It cannot be right that the police service is restricted to six months to bring the motoring case to court, yet that same motorist has no limit to complaining about the officer; it could be days, weeks, months or even years later. Similarly, in any workplace employees have only three months less a day to bring an employment tribunal against their employer for discrimination matters or dismissals; Judicial Reviews have to be lodged within three months; Human Rights claims must be made within a year; and even in civil claims for personal injury or death, court proceedings have to be started within three years. So we would argue that 12 months is a more than adequate length of time for any non-criminal investigation to be satisfactorily concluded, particularly as all the witnesses are usually already known. There is also often CCTV, body worn video or other documentary evidence that is already in police possession. Of course, as police officers, none of us want to see the small number of bad apples escape justice. We genuinely do not want them in the service. But to uphold this draconian regime which is blighting so many lives is not only unacceptable, it is inhumane. Which is why next week the Federation’s discipline experts across the country will be debating the matter and calling on the Home Office and legislators to act now and put a halt to this practice. In our view, justice delayed is justice denied – for everybody. View the full article
  14. 23 November 2018 PFEW's Tim Rogers with Sir Henry Bellingham MP Today (Friday) is a key date in our campaign to protect police drivers from being unfairly prosecuted simply for doing their jobs. A Private Members Bill by the senior government backbencher, Sir Henry Bellingham MP, is due to receive its second reading at Parliament. His Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill seeks greater exemptions from civil liability or criminal prosecution for blue light workers. The Federation has been advancing this important issue as part of our Protect the Protectors campaign. As things stand, police officers risk their livelihoods and liberty every time they are required to drive in a way that an ordinary member of the public would not. This is because the common legal standard of a ‘careful and competent driver’ applies equally to the emergency services as it does any other member of the public. A police officer can still be prosecuted for dangerous or careless driving even if they are following established police tactics and acting in accordance with their training, warned PFEW’s national pursuits lead, Tim Rogers. Sgt Rogers, who has been campaigning on this issue for close to eight years, and has been working closely with Sir Henry on his Bill, added: “The Federation has seen numerous examples of our members falling foul of the law for following their training and police tactics – in effect punished for doing their job. “What does it say about our society when police officers can even be held liable for the reckless behaviour of criminals? Juries are often told by a Coroner that a police driver can be considered to have caused a fleeing subject’s death. This is despite the police driver giving an instruction to stop and the subject doing precisely the opposite.” The Federation has so far stopped short of advising our members not to give chase, but we continue to remind them of the risks. National Chair John Apter has written to the Home Office to seek assurances of how the Government will act to protect emergency responders, in the likely event that Sir Henry’s Bill is not read as planned, due to there being others ahead of it in the queue. The Home Office held a consultation over the summer on proposals to introduce a new driver standard specifically for police officers. The Federation argued that this would simply raise the bar for officers and might result in more, not fewer, prosecutions. We argued instead that the same criminal law should apply to police as other drivers but with exemptions that permit officers to perform their role. The Government appears to be persuaded by our reasoning but has yet to say how and when it intends to amend the law. Tim Rogers said: “There are over a million response drives every year in England and Wales – each with the potential to put our officers at risk. Urgent action is needed.” More about our police drivers campaign View the full article
  15. 23 November 2018 PFEW National Chair John Apter National Chair John Apter believes there are still reasons to be optimistic even though a Private Members Bill calling for essential protections for police drivers stalled today. He said: “Despite today’s setback, the conversations we are having at ministerial level are still positive and they recognise that something has to be done.” Senior government backbencher Sir Henry Bellingham, who is the Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, put forward his Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales after we made him aware of the shameful lack of legal safeguards for blue light responders. As the law stands police response drives are illegal and officers run the risk of being charged for dangerous or careless driving. This is because the common standard of a ‘careful and competent driver’ applies equally to the emergency services as it does an ordinary member of the public who is not trained in advanced driving techniques and police tactics. A major success for the Federation has been persuading the Government that the appropriate remedy is to broaden police exemptions, rather than establish a specific standard for police drivers, which they initially proposed and we argued this would ‘raise the bar’ and expose police to greater risks of prosecution. Sir Henry’s Bill received its first reading last December and proposes increased exemptions for the emergency services from civil liability or criminal prosecution. However Parliament ran out of time to debate the Bill a second time today and the next opportunity is likely to be March 2019. John Apter is urging officers not to lose heart, saying: “I have a meeting with the Policing Minister Nick Hurd next week and this issue will be on the agenda. I previously wrote to the Minister to express my concern at the apparent lack of gravitas they are giving this important matter, and the reality that our colleagues are at risk on a daily basis for simply doing what they have been trained to do.” Affording the police greater exemption from prosecution is not about giving “carte blanche behind the wheel”, affirmed John. “We are not condoning or encouraging a Wacky Races culture of police driving – but there has to be an element of protection for our colleagues. If nothing is put in place the consequences of that will be significant, because I cannot standby and allow our members to break the law, the government and chief constables to allow it and just keep their fingers crossed that everything will be okay. That is not acceptable.” PFEW Pursuits Lead Tim Rogers added: “Senior officers in the main fully support and actively encourage the use of driving tactics that clearly are at odds with the law. "This is all very well but it is not them who will be charged or sent to jail or lose their job - it is our members. The officer carries all the risk. Senior officers need them to take these risks. I am certain we will achieve the changes in law that we need but in the meantime my advice to members is to be mindful, be safe.” View the full article