Reform of Police Federation urgent, say MPs

Published on Friday, 16 May 2014 09:50
Written by Govtoday staff

The home affairs committee has published its report on the reform of the Police Federation.

On the eve of the Police Federation annual conference, the House of Commons home affairs committee has highlighted the urgent need for further reform. The committee found:

Bullying

  • Bullying is endemic in the higher echelons of the federation.
  • Both the late Paul McKeever and the outgoing chair, Steve Williams, have been subject to systematic campaigns of abuse which have no place in a professional organisation.

Political and Personal Campaigns

  • The federation has a clear duty to speak up for its members and to engage with national policy changes which affect the police but, as the late Paul McKeever noted, some of its political campaigns have been too personalised.
  • The hiring of radio 'shock jock' Jon Gaunt was a serious error of judgement which has damaged, rather than enhanced, the federation's reputation.

Election of national chair

  • The dysfunctional relationships at the federation headquarters have seriously undermined the organisation's ability to speak with a powerful voice on behalf of its members.
  • The committee calls for the immediate election of a new national chair, by all the membership.

Rebate on subscriptions

  • Following a subscription increase in 2011 the organisation has accrued substantial reserves of around £70m which are disproportionate to its operating costs.
  • The committee recommends that the excess should be returned to members immediately as a rebate on subscriptions.

'Number 2' Accounts

  • At a local level, while some smaller branches struggle financially, others have accumulated reserves which add up to around £35m, some of it in obscure 'No. 2' accounts.
  • A new funding formula, with subscriptions going straight to the centre and being distributed to branches, would remedy this.
  • The committee calls for full transparency of all the federation's accounts, at both national and local level.

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the committee said: "We were shocked by the scale of bullying that we found at the federation's headquarters. It rivals any popular soap opera. It is disgraceful that any chairman should have been hounded out for championing the long-overdue reforms set out in the Normington report. Only a new national chair, elected directly by the federation's rank-and-file members, will have the authority to implement these changes in full.

"The Federation needs complete financial transparency to remove all suspicion about the so-called 'No. 2 accounts'. Federation funds should serve the members and the public directly, not the organisation itself. Police officers from every corner of England and Wales should receive an immediate rebate on their current subscriptions, which have accumulated into unnecessary reserves of around £70m, and a subscription freeze for next year.

"The federation must seize this opportunity to reform without delay. Our police service is the best in the world but its reputation has been extensively damaged by the federation suffering a sustained period of self inflicted harm. I hope that, with these reforms, it can move forwards to become, once again, the powerful and respected voice that our police officers, and the country, expect and deserve."

Source: House of Commons home affairs committee

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