Most officers believe Police Federation 'has to change'

Police officers
Image caption The Police Federation represents rank-and-file police officers in England and Wales

Ninety-one per cent of police officers believe it is time for the organisation that represents them, the Police Federation, to change, an independent review has suggested.

The survey of 12,500 police officers also found 64% are dissatisfied with the performance of the federation.

Members are "appalled" at the damage the "plebgate" affair is doing to policing, the review has found.

The federation called the initial findings "worrying".

The final report on the federation is expected in January 2014.

The review is examining whether the Police Federation acts as a credible voice for officers, genuinely serves the public good, and functions as an organisational democracy.

It is being conducted by a panel and is chaired by former Home Office permanent secretary, Sir David Normington, with the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) providing the secretariat.

'Turned on itself'

The Police Federation represents rank-and-file police officers in England and Wales, and currently has 127,226 subscribing members.

The progress report said the federation's "influence and impact on the public and policy has declined".

It had happened, the report said, "just at a time when the police service is undergoing major changes and needs influential voices representing front-line officers".

It continued: "It has turned in on itself and risks losing public confidence and its legitimacy to represent front-line policing. It must change and change fundamentally. Otherwise it may become an irrelevance or face reform from outside."

The Police Federation said "clearly the initial findings are worrying and raise a number of issues for consideration and further debate within the organisation".

"We must not lose sight of the fact that it was the new incoming chair of the Police Federation, Steve Williams, who asked for an independent review to be carried out, in January, because of the concerns that had been raised concerning the federation and some of its working practices.

"It was important that we understood how these impacted on the federation and how we could change the organisation to ensure that we were fit for purpose moving forward.

"As the progress report highlights, the federation is an organisation that is in need of change."


The "plebgate" row had damaged the federation, the review said.

The row started after Andrew Mitchell, then chief whip, was accused in September last year of calling officers "plebs" after they refused to let him ride his bicycle through Downing Street's main gates.

Three weeks after the original incident, Mr Mitchell met three officers acting for the Police Federation, who afterwards claimed Mr Mitchell had not elaborated on the Downing Street row and called for him to resign - which he later did.

But Mr Mitchell secretly recorded the meeting, which showed he had apologised for swearing and expressly denied that he had used the word "pleb".

According to the review, members and representatives at all levels of the federation are "appalled" at the damage the row is doing to policing and say the risk for the federation, if it does not reform itself, is that it will be imposed externally.

The survey also found that 68% of federation members are dissatisfied with how their interests are being looked after at a national level. That number dropped to 47% at a local level.

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