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17 August 2020
The Federation won’t always agree with the College of Policing, but a strengthened relationship has helped us open the door to better career development for officers, writes Gemma Fox, PFEW representative on its Professional Committee.
Having joined the National Board in December 2019, mid way through an election triennial, I found myself immersed in a whole new world of sub committees, working groups and networks.
Human nature told me to gravitate towards what I knew most in the first instance and for me that was the professional development arena.
Having been a professional development leader in my force prior to my appointment on the National Board, I considered myself to have a fairly solid starting point when coupled with my experience as a police trainer. My underestimation though of professional development and its remit was soon to become known…. I quickly found out that it crosses into all elements of policing and is the basis for lots of the work that we do as the Federation.
Professional development covers everything from regulations, training, promotion, supervision… the list is endless, and it affects our whole membership. No pressure to get this right then!
One of our Key Stakeholders is the College of Policing and I ask myself now, what did I think of the College prior to my appointment on the National Board? If I am being honest, I didn’t think a lot.
My biggest criticism was the feeling of disconnect between the College and officers on the ground. I was supportive of the principles the College strives for, knowledge, education and standards - but for me the thing missing was engagement and that they lacked understanding of the needs of our existing workforce, who are often left behind and seemed forgotten on the journey. I was always the professional development leader who would “challenge, challenge, challenge” College representatives at professional development seminars.
However, that all changed following my appointment to the board and my appointment on the Professional Committee at the College of Policing. I was welcomed into the College network and made to feel accepted as a valued stakeholder - who will at times have differing views.
I am far more understanding now and have built relationships with College representatives who allow us the time to listen, engage, challenge, negotiate and effect positive change for our workforce. More recently I have worked with the College’s workforce development directorate to look at creating more effective and meaningful Performance Development Reviews (PDRs) for our members. Giving them a perspective from the frontline on how they are currently viewed and utilised within forces has helped pave the way for a fairer, national standard.
The value the College places on us as a staff association is priceless, and I am pleased to be part of this as the open dialogue to discuss key issues is invaluable. I truly think they welcome our thoughts and challenges… or so I hope!
We work together positively with a common objective: to ensure the workforce is properly supported and given the right skills and training to do this - ultimately providing the best policing service there is in the world, and that is a true testament to the colleagues I represent.
I am also able to use my understanding of the College of Policing and the relationships I have built to lead into areas of work outside the professional development subcommittee. For example, as Roads Policing Lead working towards our objective of accreditation and training for roads policing officers, valuing the skills they have and the complexity of the role.
The ability for me to be able to influence on behalf of PFEW’s membership and represent the federated ranks is made possible by the relationships that exist.
It is not that we will always agree - we won’t - it isn’t that we will acquiesce - we don’t - it’s because we come to the table with respect and understanding from both sides, respect and understanding that is earnt not given.