90 days from today is Thu, 19 September 2024

Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Home Secretary: Thank you so much for everything that you do

11 October 2023

The Home Secretary has announced a new 24-hour mental health support line for police officers and staff, and is also pushing for up-to-date Tasers and a reduction in red tape for detectives.

Suella Braverman, who was delivering her keynote speech at the 2023 PFEW Conference, said the Government would fund the support line as “mental health matters just as much as physical health”. The T10 Tasers would be approved once they had gone through the necessary checks, and on the time-consuming documents that detectives prepared for the CPS, she said: “I am absolutely determined to fix that redaction issue.”

But Ms Braverman defended the much-criticised decision to put Chief Constables in charge of misconduct hearings, instead of independent Legally Qualified Chairs, saying: “We hold Chiefs accountable for the culture and standards in their forces. Therefore, it’s important that Chiefs have a leading role in determining who should be dismissed.“

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said that officers felt there had been “a breakdown in the special relationship” between the Government and the police, and that was why Federation members were being balloted on the issue of industrial rights.

He added: “Officers expect to be appreciated, valued and supported. Regrettably, it does not always feel that way – whether it be the media, senior police leaders and, sorry to say it…but the Government too.”

Steve also criticised short-term funding plans for policing, calling them “a sticking plaster to a deep wound”. He said that a five-year inflation-linked funding settlement was “desperately needed to help address some of the issues policing faces in 2023”.

The PFEW Chair was disappointed by the lack of an announcement about a ‘Medal for Heroes’, awarded posthumously to officers killed in the line of duty, in the Home Secretary’s speech. Ms Braverman said: “This requires consideration and is a decision made by royal warrant confirmed by the monarch“, but added that she hoped she could announce news soon. Steve responded: “We have had Covid-related changes at the click of some fingers, we have had misconduct changes very quickly and yet we’re still waiting for Medals for Heroes. It’s very disappointing.”

But Steve welcomed the Government review into investigations of firearms officers, saying: “The review is encouraging. We are not afraid of scrutiny – we want good, balanced, transparent and open investigations.”

The Home Secretary reiterated that officers needed to investigate every crime and that she hoped to see improvements in solving car theft, phone theft, shoplifting and criminal damage. In a Q&A session, a Federation board member asked how officers were going to be able to do this when they were already struggling with high demand and unmanageable workloads. Ms Braverman said that forces could free up time by “streamlining and cutting out time-wasting activity and coordinating response”.

On pay, Steve said this year’s uplift of 7% is “a step in the right direction”, but still 10% behind where it should be to keep in line with inflation. Ms Braverman said she believed the pay deal reflected ”the commitment and hard work [of officers] and the economic climate within which we are working”.

Ms Braverman ended her speech by telling officers: “You have chosen a job that is never easy but it’s also immensely worthwhile, indeed it is essential…thank you so much for everything that you do.”