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30 December 2020
Presenting the second part of our review of 2020. We marked Black History Month and celebrated our Police Bravery Awards nominees, as well as pressing on with work to improve police pay and conditions and wellbeing.
National Chair John Apter met with Home Secretary Priti Patel at Sussex Police HQ to see how the force was tackling domestic abuse during the pandemic. Police officers received a 2.5% pay award which was hailed as a "step in the right direction" and we also wrote to Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Martin Hewitt, to encourage forces to publish more body-worn video footage to bring balance to one-sided clips of police interactions circulating the web.
The Federation backed Lissie Harper’s ‘Harper's Law’ campaign and the National Chair continued to speak out on behalf of members by highlighting to the media the pressure officers are under as the Government announced facemasks are mandatory in a number of indoor settings. Assaults on emergency services rose by a massive 31 per cent and was strongly condemned by PFEW; National Vice-Chair Ché Donald branded the findings as ‘a stain on society.’ He also appeared in the Daily Telegraph following a high-profile stop & search incident in the Met. The announcement of a Taser 7 rollout was also welcomed.
National Chair John Apter led an exclusive interview with the Home Secretary for POLICE mag, covering topics including the Police Covenant, vilifying of officers on social media and stop & search. PFEW lobbying also resulted in the Government announcing the Police Covenant will be enshrined in law. Mr Apter said: “This Covenant will mean much more than words to serving or former police officers. It recognises the unique position they hold in society and the fact they very often put their lives on the line.” It also confirmed sentences for those who assault emergency service workers will be doubled from 12 months to two years.
PFEW submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on the damage inflicted by protracted misconduct investigations as it reviews the Independent Office for Police Conduct and we unveiled the 2020 nominees for our annual Police Bravery Awards.
For Black History Month, Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police Neil Basu wrote a blog for the Federation speaking about his policing career and the need for empathy between the races. "The reality is we are all prejudiced but very few of us are malicious about it," he said.
PFEW National Treasurer Simon Kempton was featured on the BBC's Critical Incident speaking about how he and a colleague, PC Charlotte Harvey, struggled with a violent individual in the path of oncoming traffic. And Lancashire Fed rep PC Ian Ashton spoke about coming out as a gay police officer in the 1990s.
John Apter commented on the police officer uplift, suggesting more needed to be done to recruit from a range of ages and experiences. And successful lobbying by PFEW prompted the College of Policing to allow officers with Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) to apply for Taser training.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick led the tributes at the funeral of Sergeant Matiu Ratana, who had been shot and killed at a custody station in Croydon on 25 September. He was a "brilliant sergeant and a lovely man" she said, with a big, lion’s heart. The ceremony concluded with a traditional Māori cultural dance.
PFEW's National Vice-Chair Ché Donald told the media that a freeze in police officer pay would "feel like a slap in the face" to officers who had been on the frontlines of the Covid crisis. And Staffordshire Fed rep PC Claire Bond was serenaded by popstar Olly Murs who presented her with a Pride of Britain Award in recognition of her heroism in preventing a stolen car from being driven into runners.
PFEW Roads Policing Lead, Gemma Fox, warned that the mental health and wellbeing of roads officers was being hugely impacted by repeated exposure to trauma, while calling for a culture change so that officers are encouraged to speak up if they are not okay.
"No time in prison will ever serve to make up for the theft of someone’s life," said Lissie Harper, after the Court of Appeal rejected a bid to increase the prison sentences given to three individuals who had caused the death of her husband PC Andrew Harper.
John Apter gave evidence to a House of Lords committee on the police response to the pandemic. “My colleagues have absolutely stepped up to the plate," he said, adding that they had contended with rapid changes in legislation and unfair criticism in the media.
Unicef called for a ban on using Taser against under 18s, prompting PFEW's National Chair to says critics needed to "live in the real world." And the results of PFEW's Pay & Morale survey of 130,000 officers revealed two thirds felt under-paid for their experience and training and a third said they worry about money every day.