19 August 2021
It’s only been just over a month since my last chair’s column, yet it already feels like so much has happened. Sadly, a lot of the focus has surrounded the unforgiveable decision to freeze police pay, this year of all years.
Despite everyone’s continued disappointment in the Government’s decision to freeze the pay of officers who earn more than £24,000, please be assured that the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is still firmly pushing for this decision to be overturned. I can tell you that there is lots going on in terms of putting lasting pressure on the Government to address this year’s pay award and, perhaps even more importantly, put a fair process in place for future years. PFEW has demanded a reset of the relationship between Government and police officers; our contribution should be genuinely appreciated and we must be treated fairly.
I shared your frustration, disappointment and anger on hearing that the Prime Minister had failed to even respond to a letter from the Federation hand-delivered by national chair John Apter. Although, it is fair to say nothing surprises me about the Government’s attitude to us anymore.
Locally, there has been widespread anger, offence and upset at the Chief Constable’s recent video message in which she said that we had let down murder victims and their families. This was further compounded when photos of four people were used to create a desktop background on Force computers.
We value and appreciate CC Rachel Swann’s down-to-earth, plain speaking, people-first approach to leading the Force but we believe the messaging on this occasion has missed its intended mark. It turned out to be counter-productive and the result was to draw attention to the controversy rather than to the important message that the Chief was trying to convey.
Almost all of the many Derbyshire officers I’ve spoken to about this completely agree with the Chief’s view that we need to improve how we deal with vulnerability. It’s unfortunate that only now are we actually starting to talk about those issues.
Derbyshire Police Federation has been supporting officers affected by the Force’s messaging, and will, of course, continue to do so. We understand that the Force recognises the potential effect on some officers, the chief officers having sent a written apology and explanation to those affected by having attended the dreadful scenes and potentially being re-exposed to memories of that trauma.
We have addressed these issues directly with our chief officer team throughout and there has been much reflection on what happened. I was also interviewed by BBC Radio and you can read more about my comments in our news article.
It is important for us all to learn from experience, good or bad, and I hope that we can now move on to the challenges ahead.
I want to also take this opportunity to remind members that they have the full support of the Federation on this and any other matter. We will continue to fight their corner wherever and whenever we are needed.
In other news, I’d like to congratulate this year’s Police Unity Tour (PUT) cyclists, who have recently completed the 180-mile fundraiser for the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) charity. I am beyond proud of every single member who took part in the event, which was made even more special after last year’s ride was cancelled.
I was proud to represent Derbyshire Police Federation, along with the Chief Constable, at the COPS Service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum at the beginning of August. This year’s service was especially moving and particularly poignant following such a challenging 18 months.
I’d also like to remind all subscribing members to vote in this year’s workplace representative elections. Voting closes at 11.59pm on Thursday 28 August, so make sure you take this opportunity to have your say. Remember to check your junk inbox, in case you’ve missed the email with the voting details.
The best of luck to everyone who has stood in this year’s elections.
As the nation comes out of lockdown, I would once again like to thank members for their outstanding commitment and dedication to the Force this past year-and-a-half. You have continued to protect the public, at the risk of your own physical and mental health. Your actions have been nothing short of commendable. I’m sure, like me, you too are looking forward to a brighter future.