90 days from today is Thu, 21 December 2023
20 April 2023
Darren, how do you feel about becoming the new Chair of Surrey Police Federation?
Excited. Apprehensive. Anxious. Stressed. All of the above.
So, what’s your background? How long have you been part of the Federation?
I’ve been 15 years in the Federation, and 24 years in the police. All frontline, uniformed, shift work, nights and everything else that comes with that. I’ve been Vice Chair of the Federation since February. So, the last couple of months I’ve been juggling two jobs, fielding emails and understanding how many officers require help and assistance, and working with the force with regards to managing and looking after their interests as well, making sure the right processes are done properly, making sure that any moves and short notice duties changes and commitments are done correctly.
It’s a difficult time for policing?
There are so few officers that are bad which negates from the good that’s being done out there by 99.9% of Police officers. People are leaving, retention’s a massive issue, recruitment standards need to be looked at as do vetting issues. Everything that we said might happen if you try and rush in more police officers, the 20,000 uplift/replacement that were removed during the last 12 years.
So what’s your focus?
I think mental health for officers, and wellbeing and looking after them, in the first instance. That starts with better pay, to start with. I think that SMF research paper was good.
It clearly shows the Police are paid a woeful amount for what we. Better pay will bring much better officers and improve morale. And from there the Force needs to bring in numbers and look at what we are doing with the officers with have.. Certainly, Armed response and where I’ve always been frontline in a uniform role, numbers have just dwindled.
Solo crewing is an issue adding risks to officers, there is a lack of experience, were suffering from an experience drain. I don’t know what the answer is but its got to be navigated on multiple fronts. We as a Fed need to be fair, to work with Force, locally and nationally, to improve conditions for our officers.
Our PCC seems to be very positive and pro, so we are building good relationships with her. We’re concerned that we are not getting anything back from our local Surrey MPs having written to all our Surrey MP’s.
We’re looking for the New chief, to give us a new direction. I want to build relationships to try and make a difference, and hopefully effect some change.
And in terms of the MPs, I know that engagement with MPs is always very hit and miss, but again is that something you’re going to tackle?
We’ve sent letters to all of our Surrey MPs. Unfortunately, we haven’t received anything from them good or bad. All we ask is that the elected MP’s listen to us when we are asking for their help. We welcome and invite them to come and meet with us and be involved in how we police so that they can understand the challenges of policing.
We want to make officers working conditions better so that they are able to protect the public.
Surrey and Sussex Police forces are now offering a non-degree route for new officers. What's your view?
Yes, that’s reinventing the wheel, going back in time. A non-degree entry, which I think is a positive thing, and that’s come about from a lot of petitioning and common sense that’s finally been understood because of the recent uplift and the complications and issues around that. It’s difficult for the forces to manage the learning days and the criteria around that, and supporting those officers. And then officers are then having to cover for those officers that are on their learning days and stepping outside of it.
The whole thing, on paper, looks a mess because, with demand, you’ve got limited supply of officers to deal with that. All that happens is demand grows even more, stress gets added to those officers that are learning, and to the ones that are covering as well. It’s just that vicious circle that just continues to add to the pain that frontline officers and across policing, The demand cannot be sustained at the moment. Something needs to be done. An option would be to have a review of Policing a Royal Commission what do the public want the police to do?.
Are you looking forward to getting out there and hearing members’ views?
Yes I’m keen to get out and put my face around and be in stations. I’m sure they’ll be sick of the sight of me! But I am keen for them to be able to access us. I know we’re here at offices in Leatherhead where everyone is welcome to come see us. We also have an office at Guilford, HQ. But I think we need to be, certainly the full timers, need to be much more visual. And I want to get out to local stations, speak to them, canvas them, get their feedback.
I might not want to hear it. It may be what I know already but I’m keen to take their views on and if I know about it, then we can try and do something about it. We might not always get the answers we want from the Force for a variety of reasons, but we can try. We are a staff association, and we do what we can. Please if you have an issue contact your Fed office.