A national union of police and prison officers was formed in 1913 by John Syme a Metropolitan Police Inspector who was dismissed for threatening to write to his MP in 1910, to air his grievances. In 1918 there was a police strike by Metropolitan Police officers over pay and they also wanted to be able to join the Police and Prison Officers Union. Lord Desborough was appointed to head a committee of enquiry and this reported in 1919. The subsequent Police Act of 1919 gave rise to the Police Federation.
The newly formed Federation was thought to be in step with the Government and as a result a national police strike was called by the Police and Prison officers union in 1919 to prevent the formation of the Police Federation. Two thousand officers took part in London, Birmingham and Liverpool. The strike failed. A police union was made illegal.
The Desborough Report of 1919 set standard conditions of service and gave the Federation a remit on 'Welfare & Efficiency'. It covered 186 different forces.
It set up separate rank boards and the first Federation conference took place on 17/18th November 1919 at Central Hall, London. The report also established the Police Council which first met in 1920.
In 1948 the Lord Oaksey committee of enquiry into police pay and conditions raised pay to £6 and 7 shillings. It also set up 'staff side' and 'official side' on the Police Council, which finally met in this format in 1953.
In 1959 there was the first real national press interest in policing (Garrat v Eastmond) concerning a complaint against the police. Questions were asked in the House and this eventually led to the Royal Commission on Policing in 1960 headed by Sir Henry Willink.
One of the results was a pay increase to £1000 pa for the bobby on the beat.
The Federation walked out of Police Council in 1976 and there was a ballot on strike action and joining the TUC. As a result there was another enquiry under Edmund Davies and this set up the framework for the present structure of Federation that still continues today.
The Federation has a statutory obligation to represent its members on matters of pay and employment conditions at national level. Every force, in England and Wales, is represented (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own Federations).