16 July 2021
Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to make the new Police Covenant a “top priority” after its implementation moved a step closer to becoming reality.
Ms Patel met Police Federation national chair John Apter and other key policing figures at the first meeting of the Police Covenant Board at which it was agreed to examine a wide range of proposals to provide officers and staff with long-term support and protection to carry out their duties, with the focus on health and wellbeing, physical safety, and support for families.
Speaking after the meeting, John described the talks as an “important step forward”.
He said: “The Police Covenant is something I believe passionately about, and I am incredibly proud this is finally turning into reality. We have worked long and hard on the creation of a Covenant to ensure it benefits all police officers, staff, volunteers, their families, and our retired colleagues.
“The first meeting of the Covenant Board is an important step forward and I look forward to playing my part in ensuring the Covenant is meaningful and tangible for all our members and their families.”
Derbyshire Police Federation secretary Kirsty Bunn welcomed the first meeting and Ms Patel’s commitment to the new covenant’s implementation.
She said: “The new Police Covenant places a lot of emphasis on ways of looking after officer wellbeing which is an issue the Police Federation takes extremely seriously so it was good to hear the Home Secretary is giving it her full support.
“Policing during the coronavirus pandemic has seen our members face unprecedented challenges and many have reported a significant impact on their mental and physical health.
“It is vital that our members know they have the backing of the Government and hopefully the covenant will show it is fully committed in its support of the police service.”
The Police Covenant Board discussed proposals to ensure occupational health standards are embedded across all police forces, a new chief medical officer for policing in England and Wales is established and improved training is put in place for GPs in relation to specific police roles.
Plans to develop pre-deployment mental health support for the entire police workforce and consider what a good support model for families should look like were also discussed at the meeting.
Ms Patel said: “I have been resolute in my determination to ensure that the police have the support they need in order to carry out their duties to protect the public. This is an absolute priority for me.
“The new Police Covenant will recognise the dangers and the harms they face each day as they undertake their duties.”
The Covenant Board will meet every quarter to discuss the Police Covenant, the delivery of agreed outcomes and the monitoring of progress.
Those attending the meeting alongside PFEW and the Home Office included representatives from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Police Superintendents’ Association, UNISON, the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association and the Welsh Government.
A consultation process on the new covenant was launched last year aimed at serving and former police officers, their families and any groups with an interest in supporting the police in England and Wales.
More than 1,000 responses were received, with the highest proportion coming from serving police officers, followed by police staff and retired officers.
Plans for the covenant are set out in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is set to be discussed in the Lords in the autumn having already progressed through the House of Commons.