Police Federation Chairman Steve Williams has said he will consider a suggestion by Prime Minister David Cameron that staff association representatives must regularly act as operational officers.
The announcement follows a meeting between Mr Williams and Mr Cameron – the first in five years that a Fed chair has met one-to-one with the PM to talk over policing issues.
Amid discussions about the Fed’s independent review and its relationship with the government, Mr Cameron outlined his strong belief that staff association reps must retain their skills in front line policing by regularly acting as operational officers “in order to remain relevant representatives”.
Though they continue to serve as officers with their respective forces, the 30 members of the Fed Joint Central Committee are not operational as they are on permanent secondment.
After the meeting, Mr Williams said the PM’s suggestion would be something the staff association must discuss in the near future.
A Fed spokeswoman told PoliceOracle.com that, in general, the vast majority of chairs and secretaries in local branches still serve in operational roles. But she was unable to provide figures for how many were operational or fully seconded.
A statement from the Federation said: “The suggestion made by the Prime Minister has its merits. However, there needs to be consideration for those who are involved in the direct negotiation process with government and who have statutory duties.
“It is definitely worth exploration and discussion.”
John Apter, Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said there were merits to having full-time representatives dedicated to helping colleagues.
Within Hampshire’s branch board Mr Apter, Secretary Paul Robertson, Treasurer Phil Callard and Discipline Lead Officer Martin Jacobs are fully seconded from their operational roles.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Mr Apter said: “I think there are two questions here – should there be full-time Federation representatives and do they have credibility as officers.
“I think a full-time Federation representative is not only working in the interest of members but also the force because it is saving them time and money. I can still be deployed at any time by Hampshire Constabulary.
“I think this is something that the independent review (of the Federation) will possibly pick up on.”
The Deputy Chairman of the West Midlands Branch Board, Tom Cuddeford, echoed Mr Apter’s comments about the work of the Federation in saving forces time and money.
He said: “We have still got to discuss the suggestion made by the Prime Minister locally and nationally.”
From Police Oracle