Report urges 'fundamental reform' of Police Federation

Published on Monday, 20 January 2014 14:21
Written by Govtoday staff

The final report of the RSA Independent Review of the Police Federation of England and Wales was published today. Based on the evidence it received, the review panel sets out the case for fundamental reform of the federation's culture, behaviours, structures and organisation.

The aim is to make the Police Federation once again the trusted voice of frontline officers.

In a survey undertaken by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the independent review, 91 per cent of members surveyed called for the Police Federation to change. The report responds to this strong expression of support for change. The review panel calls on both local and national leaders of the federation to embrace the reform package and implement it without delay.

The report raises concerns about the Police Federation's: lack of openness and transparency about its affairs and finances; weak accountability to members and the public; its inability to promote good behaviour and professional standards; and internal divisions that have hampered its effectiveness and reputation. Members, it says, have lost confidence in it and it is losing its influence in representing its members.

The report explains how the Police Federation must regain the trust of its members and the public. It must provide better value for money for members' subscriptions and for public resources it receives. It has to increase its professionalism particularly in its standards of behaviour and conduct. It has to become more unified and speak with a single voice.

There are 36 recommendations in the report designed to bring this about. They include: a new ethics, standards and performance process for Police Federation representatives; the publication of all Police Federation accounts and the expenses and hospitality received by individual officers; a new independent reference group to evaluate how the Police Federation is meeting its public interest obligations; streamlining and professionalisation of federation representative structures; the abolition of separate committees for each rank which have become divisive and create unnecessary cost; and more accountability to members including the direct election of the national chair. It also recommends an initial 25 per cent reduction in member subscriptions for at least one year. This would be financed by the abolition of rank committees.

Sir David Normington, chairman of the review panel, said: "We have no doubt that front line police officers need an effective voice to represent their interests. But we are equally clear from the evidence we heard that the Federation is not fulfilling that function well enough at the moment and needs major reform. There is an urgent need for it regain the trust of its members, to be much more open and accountable and to adopt the kind of standards of behaviour and conduct which the public expects of police officers. If it is to regain its influence, it must put behind it the internal distrust and divisions which are such a feature of its present operations.

"We were encouraged that the federation set up the review in the first place and gave us a free hand to report exactly what we found. That gives us encouragement that there is willingness among the current leadership to seize this moment and get on and implement our report.

"If it does, there is a real opportunity to recreate the professional, trusted, and unified Police Federation which its members so much want, and once again, to become the trusted voice of frontline officers."

The review panel undertook a large-scale consultation exercise involving well in excess of 10,000 members, Police Federation staff and representatives, and stakeholders from across the policing world and beyond. The independent review panel reviewed the full range of evidence in concluding its analysis and making a series of recommendations for reform. The RSA provided the review secretariat.

Recommendations from the review final report include:

  • The federation should adopt a new statement of intent which reflects the Police Federation's commitment to act in the public interest, with public accountability, alongside accountability to its members. This should be incorporated in legislation as soon as practicable.
  • A new independent reference group should be established to hold the Police Federation accountable to the public interest and monitor progress on the implementation of the independent review recommendations.
  • National guidelines for all expenses, honoraria and hospitality practices should be agreed and local force branches will be required to comply with these (including their publication online).
  • All accounts from which the Police Federation derives income or contributes revenues should be published and be publicly available. This includes 'No.2', member services, group insurance trusts, accounts or funds.
  • The completion of local and national databases should happen as soon as possible. Where these are currently incomplete we request that ACPO and the Home Office agree to the transfer of email addresses to the local Federations and the national Police Federation.
  • A new performance and standards contract and an ethics, standards and performance process should be drafted, consulted upon and signed by all representatives.
  • There should be a stronger focus on equality and diversity at all levels of the Police Federation. There will be a new director of equality, equality assessments, reserve seats maintained in the short term but then discontinued once real progress has been made as independently assessed.
  • Each force should complete, with the help of the Police Federation HQ, a cost-benefit analysis of the value it provides to its local force.
  • The model of representation should be changed including repealing the equal representation of ranks at local level and the establishment of independent panels to decide levels of representation if no agreement can be found.
  • Rank committees should be brought to an end with all staff, reserves and revenues transferred to the JCC nationally and JBBs locally.
  • A new National Council comprised of representatives from all the 43 branches should elect a National Board and hold it to account while ensuring that the Board has the authority to provide leadership to the federation.
  • The new National Board should replace the Joint Central Committee. This will be slimmed down body both in terms of numbers and the amount of time that representatives will devote to national level business.
  • The National Chair would become a position elected by all members as long as the national database was in place. The general secretary would be selected for their professional skills and would be the de facto chief executive of the Federation.
  • There should be a 25 per cent reduction in subscription levels for one year in 2015 financed by the reserves from the rank central committees with the possibility of further reductions in future years

Source: RSA

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