22 December 2022
Christmas and New Year Message for Members from Phil Matthews, Chair of Wiltshire Police Federation.
“Well around a year ago I took office as the chair of Wiltshire Police Federation and what a year it has been.
“Whilst I was a relatively active Fed Repprior to taking this seat, I couldn’t have imagined how much I was about to take on. I remember my original message to you all when I was looking for the votes and I wanted to share some of this year with you.
“Hopefully I can show that I have kept to my word and achieved the goals I set myself. I promised you a stronger brand of the Federation and that is growing as we speak. I promised you a more collaborative approach to achieve the objectives of seeking the best possible conditions for you all.
“This too has been successful with the Federation involved in so very many of the processes talking place this year. Our relationship with most of the departments in the force as well as the chief are stronger than ever.
“None of us could account for the HMICFRS report which, I know has hit so very many of you. There is the push for accountability which in the main, appears to have created more work for the front line response cops. However, as a result of all of this, the chief had to make some firm decisions and decided to reinforce specialist investigations. Moving some 20 officers, qualified as detectives, back in to detective roles. This was a monumental task and the Federation was involved heavily. I can tell you that I did not enjoy it - but we are in the Office of Constable and the chief can put us where we are needed and I don’t think we can deny that it was needed.
“The report has also seen the creation and expansion of the volume crime team. This again has had its hurdles but is starting to embed and I am hearing some very positive results with some officers carrying far fewer niche.
“The Federation will always take a different approach to how it works under a new Chair. My predecessor did a great job and anything I do is not to say he didn’t do well. He certainly made some really positive changes and is a tough act to follow.
“Coming soon… We have ordered our welfare van. This is a van we will use to come to protracted incidents such as crime scenes, Solstice, public order matters, things like the train crash in Salisbury just over a year ago. It will be equipped with a toilet and we will have hot drinks and snacks available on it.
“I am changing the way I communicate with you all. Emails like this are old hat and no one has the time to read lengthy emails. The Federation has a closed Facebook page which I invite you to join. I intend to make this the place where I will post around regulations, entitlements and important matters that relate to you.
“I will do my best to avoid information overload with tall the political things that you don’t need to hear me harp on about. I will also seek to do a ‘Live’ At least once a month where you can either, submit regs questions before hand and ill answer on the day, or ask me live and I’ll try answer for you.
“This will allow me to introduce our Reps as well and particularly those with specialisms such as Equality and diversity or health and safety etc
“This year has seen the Government’s cuts having the consequences they were warned about in 10 years of austerity. I know that our members are feeling the financial pain and to try and help, Secretary Sarah Ennis set up the Law and Larder scheme. This is a scheme that has seen a good bit of interest from both police and civilian colleagues.
“You tell us what you need and we will deliver without prejudice, you do not need to be a member and you do not need to be an officer. Both unison and the force have contributed to this project. The scheme has been used by both officer and civilian, we will be discrete and can deliver to your home if you don’t want us turning up at your work. If you need specialist items like sanitary or baby products, do just say and we will provide. Law and Larder can be found here https://www.polfed.org/wilts/advice/law-and-larder-scheme/
“We have seen legislative changes this year in relation to police drivers. The Federation spent over 8 years fighting for this change which has now come, better protecting our emergency response drivers. We have seen that, for the first time, we can invite Special Constables to be part of the Federation with all of the same benefits that regular cops have. Specials can be Reps and take up seats on the Federation Board even.
My Christmas message to you all:
“There has been so much happening here this year that to go over it all would just take ages. What I want to say, to bring this year to a close is don’t forget why we do this. Why we signed up to be cops. We all had our reasons and it’s so easy with morale being so low everywhere, to forget it. You are the first line of defence for those that need us. You are the ones who will cover those who have chosen to strike while you have no industrial rights and the Government continue to treat us with contempt.
“Police are being asked to protect those that are withdrawing their services, and to take up on making sure those services continue to run. We are the last thought in the government considerations and I don’t think that’s ever been any different.
“Each of us turn up every day and do what you can to protect our communities and our victims of crime. For that, I thank you, for keeping the mission to mind, for being the people that do good every day. While the pressure at work seems so much and the times seem so hard. What you do makes someone’s day better, even saves lives. I don’t forget that and it’s what drives me every day to do all I can to make things right. I cannot change Police Regulations and I know some were upset with things that have happened. I’ll always fight for fairness passionately.
“On to 2023 we have a new Chief Constable. It’s looking like it will be Cdr Catherine Roper. This is exciting news and it could invite real change into our force. CC Pritchard has done a great job with the force and challenges that he has faced in his role. I thank him for his engagement with the Federation and his desire to have a strong high performing force.
"Finally I want to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas, for those working and not seeing their families over Christmas, I thank you. Yes, we signed up for it but it doesn’t make it any easier to do. I hope 2023 brings us closer to having pride in policing again. Creates the unity we as cops once had, I know it’s still there.
"Look out for yourselves and each other."