Police Federation


Blog: "No-one is invincible"

30 November 2020
Gemma Fox, Roads Policing Lead

Gemma Fox, Roads Policing Lead

Sharing the load can make the world of difference to you and your colleagues - in every respect but especially when it come to dealing with the difficult and often harrowing nature of policing.

How do we even begin to process trauma? My focus for this month has been on the mental health of our roads policing officers, for whom dealing with trauma can be an almost daily occurrence.

The personal experiences, statistics and research we have shared this month reinforces why our Hear 'Man Up', Think 'Man Down’ campaign is so important. The campaign is about recognising the signs when you or your colleagues are struggling. It is about changing attitudes, reaching out early to avoid pain and stress spiralling out of control. If we can get one person to seek support before it all gets too much, then the campaign has been worth it.

I am indebted to the inspirational officers that have shared their stories. We’ve heard from Sergeant Scott Lee-Amies and PC Andy Smith - who shared first-hand experience how difficult the role is - and I know that the personal struggles that we have featured will go a long way to helping others. I know many could relate to going through the motions - thinking that they are coping, when they are not.

We heard about Lancashire Constabulary’s ‘gold standard’ approach to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of officers in high risk roles like roads policing. Their approach towards generating a culture of people talking to each other in groups – teammates who work together daily, is paying dividends. Like-minded, like-experienced officers are benefiting from taking part in deep discussions on topics that may not be spoken of in normal circumstances.

The responsibility that comes with being a Family Liaison Officer was a difficult read but DC Thomas shared why he wouldn’t change what he does – and that is helping someone in their darkest hour. Not an easy job and not one that you can leave at the door.

Peer support was the thread that ran through all content for the month. It’s something we all need, and my colleague Steve Taylor gave insight from a supervisor’s point of view and the need to be in the best place mentally for the sake of themselves and their team.

My sincere thanks to everyone who shared and contributed to our focus on roads – especially to Police Care UK’s Dr Jess Miller who took the time to share her insight and wise counsel on personal resilience.

This past month has been incredibly thought provoking – trauma affects us all differently and no-one is invincible. Talking is priceless and sharing the strains, stresses and anxieties of the job goes a long way in looking after each other’s mental health. Together we are stronger.

Gemma Fox
Roads Policing Lead, PFEW

#RoadsPolicing #ManUpManDown #PoliceWelfare

Blog: Conduct and Performance Chair reflects on 2020

30 November 2020
Photo of gavel and law book

As conduct and performance month draws to a close, Phill Matthews, National Board member and Chair of the Conduct and Performance sub-committee, reflects on 2020 and looks ahead to what the committee will continue to strive for.

“As I wrap up our month of highlighting the Federation’s work around ensuring our colleagues are treated fairer by the conduct and performance system, and with the year coming to a close, I felt this would provide a perfect opportunity to reflect back on what we have achieved in 2020. This year has been particularly challenging for colleagues from a conduct and performance perspective as we watched a string of high-profile events unfold (usually via edited social media video clips), resulting in our members facing unfair criticism from the media and on many occasions being portrayed as villains on social media for just doing their jobs. Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) rhetoric was also thrown into the mix, as it compared live investigations in the UK to the tragic event in the US.

“It is worth knowing just 232 officers were placed on the Barred List between April 2019 and March this year and only just over 30 of those were dismissed as a result of any public complaint. The vast majority were dismissed and placed on the barred list by their colleagues who, like me, absolutely condemn dishonest or inappropriate behaviour amongst our number. A small minority should not taint the reputation of our incredible police service, the overwhelming majority of whom work tirelessly with dedication and professionalism under extremely demanding circumstances. In turn we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure colleagues are treated fairly should they ever find themselves subject to misconduct proceedings and push back on misinformation circling the web.

“In February this year, the Home Office brought in new regulations which have raised the bar on what merits disciplinary action, meaning misconduct proceedings will only be triggered if the wrongdoing warrants at least a written warning, whilst low-level outcomes have been removed in favour of learning and development.

“A big part of this is giving officers the opportunity to undertake Reflective Practice with their line manager if their performance requires improvement by discussing how the issue can be avoided in the future, accepting what happened and then moving forward - instead of facing punitive action for minor issues.

“I am pleased to say the Federation played a large part in securing these long-overdue changes which will eventually bring about a culture shift and put an end to blame culture – although there is some way to go and Covid-19 has slowed down the delivery of training to supervisors and PSD.

“This year has also presented us with the excellent opportunity to take our Time Limits campaign to MPs and we have submitted compelling evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee as it investigates the IOPC. We must put an end to misconduct investigations dragging on for more than a year – it has not only wrecked the lives of colleagues, but the cost to the taxpayer for each year one overruns is staggering.

“We would like to thank members who have volunteered as case studies and have taken the time to share their experiences as we appreciate it can be difficult to relive distressing life experiences. These hard-hitting stories gives us the vital ammunition we need to push for change and to prove to MPs the damage caused. We still eagerly await a date to be called before Yvette Cooper but will be shouting about it once it goes ahead.

“Working remotely this year has of course also presented its challenges. We have had to adopt new ways of working and delivering for our reps who work so hard to support you, with weekly video conferencing and top notch training sessions with the conduct leads from around the country, providing evidenced CPD (Continuous Professional Development) and a forum for them to network and exchange ideas. 

“Your sub-committee and your force conduct leads are all active reps with your best interests at heart and will continue to fight your corner as we strive to achieve even more in 2021.”

Phill Matthews
Conduct and Performance Chair, PFEW

#ConductAndPerformance #TimeLimits #YourFederation

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