25 May 2022
The Police Federation’s 2022 annual conference in Manchester was my first and I am taking this opportunity to share some of my experiences, writes Derbyshire Police Federation workplace representative Lesley Smith.
Entering the event was so exciting and I was really looking forward to hearing what the speakers had to say, learning lots and taking notes to bring back to Force to assist our members.
The first speaker was a really nice surprise, as they were not named on the agenda, the session was simply titled: opportunityisnowhere.
The speaker was Kriss Kezie Uchechukwu Duru Akabusi. I knew who Kriss was: an Olympian, record breaker and owner of the most contagious laugh ever heard. But I knew little about his journey.
Kriss spoke about embracing change and the perspective of change. Is opportunity nowhere? Or is opportunity now here?
Kriss recalled his mentor from his time in the military, Sergeant McKenzie, who saw potential and changed Kriss’ mindset as he recognised his potential and nurtured his talent.
He also outlined the value of being recognised for the good things he’d done and his performances on the track.
The highlight of the session for me was Kriss speaking about being brave and trying new things, welcoming change, and embracing it.
This was illustrated by his journey to gold in the 4 x 400 metre relay in Tokyo 1991 when they changed the running order of the team, putting the fastest man first, rather than in the final leg. This concluded with Kriss replaying the race- with his personal commentary. A true WOW moment, and incredibly moving.
National secretary Alex Duncan and national deputy secretary John Partington then discussed pay and conditions with facilitator George Pascoe-Watson.
My main takeaway from this session was the Police Federation campaign for the Elizabeth Medal to recognise fallen officers. I was very humbled that the fathers of both Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone attended the conference.
The speakers also talked about how vital it was to have an independent process to review our pay and the Police Federation withdrawal from the current process was due to what it perceived to be the lack of independence from the Government.
I chose to attend a break-out session relating to lack of cultural awareness and disproportionality in the discipline service.
It was an excellent and very insightful session, challenging and questioning why a higher proportion of BAME officers are being referred to the PSD rather than matters or issues being addressed far earlier by local supervision.
The session spoke about PSD departments now collecting ethnicity data to reflect the dynamic of officers being investigated so we can address disproportionality.
After lunch our new national chair, Steve Hartshorn, gave his address. Steve was clearly nervous, but spoke from the heart and addressed key issues: pay, pensions, presence and pride.
He spoke about fairness in the police pay review, and that the Federation wasn’t asking for special treatment but for fairness in recognising the unique role police officers undertake, the stresses and dangers faced.
Steve addressed the home security presenting a list of changes, improvements and reforms members and the Federation would like to see take place.
All the points Steve made were valid but it did feel a little like a children’s wish list for Christmas and a tad unrealistic for all points to be addressed. A smaller, more detailed list could have been more impactive, as it felt like we were asking for A and B and C and D and E etc.
Home Secretary Priti Patel took to the stage and exited to polite applause but there was very little substance between her arrival and departure, or at least that’s how it felt listening to her speak.
She used plenty of soundbites but failed to answer any direct questions, about the things officers and members really care about, pay conditions and pensions.
The last session of day one was about the pensions remedy - the fight for fairness: I took two things from this session - find out your finishing points for each scheme you are on, to give a true picture of what your pension looks like and that a date for when the pensions mess will be resolved is yet unknown.
Day two began with a session on modernising hearings which centred on legally qualified chairs (LQC) hearings and the possibility of them being held personally liable for decisions rather than the police force bringing proceedings. I personally felt this session was more about the LQCs than the Police Federation members.
I attended the women in policing networking lunch event and it was nice to see some familiar faces from around the country.
I was the only Derbyshire rep at the lunch, so was slightly out of my comfort zone talking to lots of new people.I attended the last women in policing seminar at Federation house with Kirsty Bunn, our secretary, and would like to become more involved in the network as time allows.
The next session was the Treasurer’s Report during which a vote on increasing Police Federation subscriptions was held.
It was very informative with some really good, fact-based information provided, after which delegates voted on whether to increase subscriptions in line with any pay raise we are granted.
This equates to about 40p a month increase if we are granted a two per cent pay rise and we were told that if the increase didn’t take place, some of the legal support the Federation currently provides wouldn’t be able to be given and each case would have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
As a Fed rep, I never want to be in a position where I have to tell a member that legal advice wasn’t available, when they needed it the most.
The votes were counted and the motion was carried but for me and the reps I spoke to, the vote was a real heart-fighting-head decision. It was a very difficult decision to make and not one undertaken lightly.
The final session of the conference was by Crown Prosecution Service regarding the recent changes - with TWIFF/RPM/Disclosure.
This would have been more useful as a break-out session in a smaller room to allow for better engagement with the panel and Q & A.
However, the key message from this session was: don’t think about disclosure as an additional task-but as part of your investigation from day one. And coming from the detective world I echo this message. If you follow the principles of disclosure from the get-go it doesn’t make it a massive task when you are submitting your files: retain, record, review and reveal.