What is the value of Police Federation membership? In this series, members who have been assisted by the Federation in their time of need, speak about their experiences.
In 2014 Shona Birkby, a roads policing officer, was horribly injured while undertaking stinger training on a motorway.
Having deployed the device she went to retract it, not realising it was caught under the wheels of a police car. The plastic tidy sprung up and whipped her forearm, lacerating it and causing permanent nerve damage. The blood and intense pain cause Shona to think she’d lost her hand at the scene. She ended up having surgery and the scarring from this left her forearm looking like ‘a shark had attacked it’. She was fitted with a Spinal Cord Stimulator to reduce the pain which means she is now restricted for the rest of her career.
The injury left her with reduced sensation in her left hand, and in near constant pain. She felt she had to hide the extent of her injuries in order to keep her job. Her whole life changed, and she felt incredibly alone – more so when she filed a claim against her force for compensation.
Bad advice from a sergeant who told her that she would never be considered for a promotion due to her injury and the pressures of hiding her pain at work, all while looking after her daughter as a single parent, led Shona to approach Bedfordshire Police Federation in 2019.
Her Federation rep, Emma Carter, provided a safe outlet to discuss her fears about work and wider problems caused by her injury. Her rep provided career advice and practical assistance such as recommending cleaning services and other ways to manage at home and what benefits could be claimed to assist financially.
The Federation helped Shona to get the compensation she deserved and secure training for her to help her further her career.
She says, “I suffered terribly, and I felt terribly alone. Having somebody at my side made all the difference – I really wish I’d gone to the Federation sooner. Out of all the subs that come out of my pay slip, the Federation really is just the best value for money. They did so much for me that I had no idea was possible. In addition, I was given invaluable reassurance that being restricted through an injury is not the end of my career. The Federation isn’t just for disciplinary cases – without them I’d never have been able to take on my force.”