The election of a new Police Federation Chairman is set to take place in September 2012. With the current period of extreme change to British policing, whoever takes up the role will have a great deal of important work to do. They will also carry a weight of responsibility on their shoulders for the future of policing, not only for the officers but just as importantly for the public they serve.
Julie Nesbit, who chairs the Constables’ Central Committee (CCC), has been the first candidate to break cover in the election race to succeed Paul McKeever. It would seem that Julie, her ambitions and/or abilities may not be popular with the membership. Despite her pledge to deliver “strong leadership” if elected, the news has been greeted with dismay from many people who have been prepared to comment (see below).
“What a sorry state of affairs” – “Disaster looms” – “She has not delivered leadership” – “No no no!” – “Julie certainly is not the best or right candidate”
So not a popular candidate it would seem however, a comment on a similar news thread summed the situation up by saying; “Sadly we have no natural successor to Paul McKeever.”
I knew Paul personally and have worked with him, all be it at a lower level than the JCC. So with personal knowledge of the man I can be confident in repeating that which I’ve said previously (see here); Paul McKeever will be an extremely hard act to follow. This worrying factor may partly be the driving force behind some of the disparaging comments about possible successors.
The Federation membership is rightly worried about who will take up the important post but more importantly, will the person eventually elected actually be capable of delivering that which is undoubtedly required?
I’ve also met Julie on more than one occasion during my work with the Federation. She’s a perfectly pleasant person and like the vast majority of Federation representatives, is passionate about the rights and welfare of all police officers. I have no wish to add further brickbats to those being aimed at the lady however; I wouldn’t personally feel confident that she possessed the skills, ability or personality to follow in Paul’s footsteps and deliver what is so urgently required.
Many members of the Federation are calling for the right to personally vote for their next chairman, as opposed to that function being carried out by the Joint Central Committee. As Federation rules currently stand, the JCC containing 30 elected representatives from across England and Wales, vote for the new chairman on behalf of their members. There are pros and cons for both this method of election and the use of a more widespread electorate.
Not without standing calls which voice concern about cronyism or collective narcissism, those who work closely with any prospective candidate should surely possess better first-hand knowledge about that candidate’s skills and ability. Conversely, a vote by a wider membership would perhaps be more reflective of that person’s general popularity and how they will be perceived on mass.
Given that the ‘new face’ of the Federation has to not only be listened to but also be acceptable to the public, the media and politicians, as well as the membership, perhaps the general perception of any new post holder is even more important than it has been previously?
“I may be retiring but I will not stop fighting for what is right and for public safety.” (Paul McKeever)
Whoever is appointed to this high office needs to possess sound intellect and good oratory skills. They also need to show quantifiable credibility, as well as being highly personable and liked by all those they deal with. Despite some calls for more vociferous militancy, the role of Police Federation Chairman requires so much more. Or it does if our true aim is to restore the credibility of and understanding about policing for the people by the people.
I’ll say it again… Getting the right person to succeed Paul won’t be an easy task!
- A Great Loss to British Policing! (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- Police Federation: cut backs will put public at risk (telegraph.co.uk)
- Drop in cops with numbers down by 10,000 since election (thesun.co.uk)
- McKeever: I can’t stomach these cuts (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- 10,000 fewer police officers since general election (telegraph.co.uk)