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30 December 2020
2020 has been a challenging year for the Federation and wider policing, from the pandemic to public protests, and PFEW has made progress around the officer uplift and sentencing as well as highlighting important issues such as mental health. Here's a look back at some of those key moments.
Delegates gathered at Kenilworth for the Federation's annual Roads Policing Conference. PFEW's National Chair John Apter, opening the event, spoke about the devastating impact of a decade of cuts and declared roads policing as more than "a nice to have".
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham warned of rising road fatalities and a minute's silence was held for PC Nick Dumphreys of the Cumbria Police road policing unit, who was killed on duty ahead of the conference.
PC Andrew Harper, the 28-year-old newlywed dragged to death by car thieves, was given a posthumous award that was accepted by his wife Lissie.
PFEW welcomed a 6.4% increase for policing from the government but expressed disappointment that this would fall on council taxpayers, risking a two-tier system. And Simon Kempton from the PFEW National Board called for a fresh debate on prohibition of cannabis, arguing that 16% fall in persons being charged for possession showed that police forces were having prioritise resources towards more serious offending.
PFEW submitted evidence to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) for a 5% pay uplift across all ranks. National Chair John Apter commented that, “Police officers have been treated with contempt... their pay having effectively been cut by 18% in real terms over the past decade".
A report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) claimed that victims had given up reporting some crimes because they believed the police would not have the capacity to investigate.
And the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) withdrew its instruction to Thames Valley Police to hold a gross misconduct hearing into five police officers involved in the Leon Briggs case, who had been under investigation for seven years.
Shadow Home Secretary Louise Haigh hailed the Federation as a "campaigning force for members" during a reception at Westminster, where senior Fed reps met MPs to build support. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary also dropped in and reiterated her support to champion a police covenant.
National Police Chaplain Rev Canon David Wilbraham received his MBE from Prince Charles for his 40 years’ service, including coordinating National Police Memorial Day.
Avon and Somerset Police Federation mourned the loss of popular former detective, Nick Matthews, an "old-fashioned thief-taker with an incredible memory for names and faces", who died of Covid 19. And as the pandemic took hold, PFEW's John Apter raised concerns about lack of clarity from government and how police would be expected to enforce social distancing.
The first full month of the lockdown saw dramatic changes in policing. Officers in Leicestershire turned a welfare vehicle into a mobile COVID-19 support, and Fed Rep Tim Ward of Dorset delivered custom PPE packs to officers in his region.
One of the deadliest changes was the rise in coughing and spitting on officers in an attempt to weaponise the virus. PFEW Chair John Apter said those who recklessly threaten officers with COVID-19 by deliberately coughing and spitting "deserve every day they spend in prison" as the Federation welcomed harsher, automatic jail sentences for this behaviour.
We continued to be at the forefront of national discussions on all aspects of the COVID-19 lockdown, advising the government on PPE, social distancing, and more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, the Federation made the difficult decision to cancel National Police Memorial Day, to be replaced by a virtual event which was held in September. On National Specials Day, National Chair John Apter paid tribute to the work of these vital members of the policing family, saying that “Our amazing Specials have dedicated thousands of hours during this unprecedented time.”
The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to “The willingness of emergency service personnel to work tirelessly to protect the interests of others.”
Unfortunately, May also saw the release of lockdown crime figures which showed an alarming spike in assaults on emergency services workers even as other crime fell. This began a trend that has persisted throughout the year: speaking on the latest figures in October, National Vice Chair Che Donald called the 31% rise "a stain on society."
The Federation held its first ever virtual Annual Conference. The event saw delegates vote to increase subscriptions for the first time in nine years. The death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States triggered global anti-racism protests including in the UK. John Apter appealed for communities and the police to come together to end the violence.
The Federation also called on Amazon to halt the sale of offensive t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Blue Lives Murder’. And the Home Secretary personally thanked assaulted officers in a video conference arranged by PFEW.