Chairmanship of the Police Federation #PFTP

Police Federation of England and Wales

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!

3 thoughts on “Chairmanship of the Police Federation #PFTP

  1. … but also be acceptable to the public, the media and politicians…

    Why should it? The post-holder’s duty lies only to the Police Federation and to its membership, and frankly now, more than at any other time, the Federation’s focus must be on its members. Theresa May has made it very clear that “the right to strike is not on the table… keeping our communities safe is simply too important”, yet at the same time, in an Employment Tribunal ruling, Judge David Latham has ruled that police officers – who are Crown servants and not employees – cannot be classed as “workers” under redundancy rules and therefore canot bring claims for lack of consultation under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992.

    Given that decisions of the Police Arbitration Tribunal are not binding on the Home Secretary, who not only can completely ignore these, but has in fact already done so, it is very clear that police officers are presently on a dangerous cusp. The Winsor Report will lead to the pay of probationer officers being far less than the Community Support Officers that David Blunkett brought in as a cheaper second tier of policing, yet as was seen after the G4S fiasco, police officers simply had their entire summer leave cancelled and were forced to travel hundreds of miles to live in appalling conditions throughout the Olympics simply to plug the gap left by the private sector – and they had no alternative.

    Something has got to give, and whoever the next Chairman of the Police Federation is, he or she is on a direct collision course with the present Government. It’s already clear that the end result is going to be bad for everyone… the Home Secretary, through the badly-evidenced recommendations of Winsor (simply a re-hash of political dogma from when David Cameron was a special advisor to then-Home Secretary Michael Howard at the time of the ill-fated Sheehy Enquiry) is clearly determined to show the Police Service who is boss. The fact that policing is being destroyed hasn’t deterred her – take a look at the long (and growing) queues for retirement (in addition to the compulsory retirements under Regulation A19) and the consequences of the growing lack of policing skills and experience in police supervision and management.

    Never mind, G4S is tendering to take over policing entirely. Oh… wait…!


    1. When I say “acceptable to the public, the media and politicians” I don’t mean subservient, I mean, ‘liked’ whether agreed with or not …

      There will always be an element of PR in the role, along with a pressing need to try and repair the years of media and political damage to policing. The current (generally) negative public perception of police officers and policing as a whole has to be addressed, if we are to ever see a return to lthe evels of public support the job once enjoyed.

      I agree, to a certain extent, that some at the top of PFEW are a little too far removed from the reality of day to day policing and the needs of their membership. But isn’t it a factor reflected right across policing? If ACPO officers (and conequently politicians) don’t understand what is going on, pehaps it’s a little unfair to expect the top of PFEW to be any different?

      I believe the way in which the PFEW Chair is elected has to cange, if the post is to more acurately reflect the requirements of the membership. Mark Botham (local JBB Chair) said recently; “they need to work with country to reform fed regs so that Joint Branch Boards have weighted vote in the elections for national Joint chair AND national joint secretary. AND that in future individual members in forces have weighted vote for their own JBB chair and secretary.” I tend to agree.

      As with the selection of leadership in Government, any political party or indeed most senior management selection process (not least in policing), current appointmennt methods tend to promote collective narcissism.


  2. Frankly the majority of those eligible for the post are so far removed from daily policing ,whatever they may claim, they are seen by the official side as nothing more than an annoyance.
    Whomever is elected must represent a new mood and not give any quarter to the home office or the press. Yes they need to be an orator and come across well , but they represent us and frankly we have nothing more to lose if the Fed’ finally tweak the nose of those who would reduce us to the role of short term security guards with no status or security of employment.
    Perhaps our local Fed’ should give us the chance to vote on whom we want to take the role on and vote accordingly.


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