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"Thank you to our reps - you’re the backbone of this organisation"
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, joined Hampshire Police Federation in 2001 because of the way he was treated over a misconduct allegation.
"I was investigated by my force and I accept police are – and should be – open to scrutiny, but the way I was treated was appalling. It really made me question my loyalty to policing - I’d done nothing wrong. I was thinking of resigning, but my fed rep said rather than getting angry and bitter, why not do something about it and become a rep? I laughed it off but as time went on I took his advice and became a fed rep with Hampshire Police Federation. I never looked back.
"You experience many things as a fed rep. When you represent someone who is unjustly accused of something and is in a job-threatening position and you save their career - that’s big, you’ve changed somebody’s life for the better.
"But although those big things are important, I got as much satisfaction from the small things – or things that seemed small but were big to members. Like an officer who’d had their duties changed at short notice, completely at odds with police regulations and they couldn’t have a family holiday. As a rep you’d challenge it appropriately and professionally and get the decision reversed – that’s a really big deal. Whether it’s me or my colleagues, we don’t do this for praise or thanks. We do it to help and make a difference.
"This is our 100th year and back in 1919 the Police Federation was created to fail, so to be here 100 years on is a good thing. I accept we haven’t always got things right. We’ve gone through a big review, which was long overdue and there’s still more change to come. As an organisation we must change with the times and the needs of our members. We do far more good than people give us credit for and I want us to celebrate far more the good that we do.
"My message to reps across England and Wales is thank you. You’re the backbone of this organisation, you’re the ones who make us credible, doing that work day in and day out and making us what we are."