Police Federation of England and Wales
|Key people||Steve Williams
|Office location||Federation House, Highbury Drive, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 7UY, UK|
The Police Federation of England and Wales is the representative body to which all police officers in England and Wales up to and including the rank of Chief Inspector belong. There are 141,000 members as of July 2009. Members can elect not to pay subscriptions and thereby not receive the legal representation and other benefits that paying members receive, but they still continue officially to be members of the federation. In reality only a very few officers have ever decided not to pay their full subscription dues. Superintendents have their own association, the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, whilst the Association of Chief Police Officers represents the most senior ranks.
The Police Federation of England and Wales was set up by the Police Act 1919 after two police strikes. The government of the day were frightened by the prospect of the police going on strike and created the Police Federation of England and Wales and withdrew the right of officers in the UK to strike.
Police officers are technically not employees, but crown-appointed warrant holders. This allows the police their unique independent status and notionally provides the citizens of the UK a protection from any government that might wish unlawfully to use the police as an instrument against them. Many observers mistakenly equate the Police Federation with a trade union. This is technically an incorrect assumption, as it was set up specifically by the government of the day not to be a trade union, however in reality the Federation does function in a similar manner. It negotiates with the Official Side on all matters concerning its membership's pay, allowances, hour of duty, annual leave, pensions and other conditions of service. However, unlike a union, the Federation is controlled entirely by serving police officers, has no political affiliations and has no powers to call a strike. That is not to say that the Federation remains aloof from applying political pressure, as the successful 1976 ballot regarding the right to strike and the 2012/3 "Plebgate" affair show.
The Police Federation is a tripartite organisation made up of equal numbers of representatives from the Constable, Sergeant and Inspector ranks. Each of the 43 police forces within England and Wales has its own federation structure based on three branch boards based on rank. The three rank boards meet as a Joint Board, or in the Metropolitan Police's case, as a Joint Executive. The 43 forces are grouped into 8 regions. Each of the regions sends a Constable, Sergeant and Inspector to the National Body called the Joint Central Committee. Due to its size, The Metropolitan Police federation send two officers of each rank to the Joint Central Committee. The central committee also has three 'reserved seat' members made up of a female PC, Sergeant and Inspector.
The Joint Central Committee has responsibility for national pay negotiations on behalf of its members. It also performs many other functions, such as training, administering legal representation and liaising with government and other national bodies on policy and legislative matters. The present Joint Central Committee Chairman is Steve Williams.
The Police Federation HQ address is Federation House, Leatherhead, which also incorporates the federation's national training centre and hotel facility for Federation members.
Police officers have a number of unusual conditions attached to their working practice. Firstly, they hold a warrant from the Crown that allows each officer to act as an individual and at their own discretion. Therefore, they cannot be ordered to arrest someone if they believe that not to be the right course of action. From their creation in 2002, under New Labour, some parties allege that this position is being eroded by the UK government who are employing non warranted Police Community Support Officers. These new officers, who are not members of the federation, do not hold a warrant and do have the right to strike, but can be ordered to perform acts by a senior officer. Fully warranted Police Officers do not have the right to strike and they do not have redress to an Employment Tribunal if they believe they were wrongly dismissed. This is because police officers are excluded from much UK employment law. (Police Discipline Regulations).
Three Police Federation officers, Ken Mackaill, Chris Jones & Stuart Hinton, are being investigated for alleged misconduct over comments that they made to the media over the "Plebgate" affair involving Andrew Mitchell. After a meeting with Mr Mitchell on 12 October 2012, Mr Mackaill said, "He will not tell us what he did say. I think Mr Mitchell's position is untenable. I think he has to resign." The subsequent release of a tape of the conversation indicated that this was not the case.
- "About the Metropolitan Police Federation". Metropolitan Police Federation.
- "About Us, What We Stand For". Kent Police Federation.
- "More Fed Officials Face 'Plebgate' Probe". Police Oracle. 26 March 2013.
- "Ten police officers investigated over 'Plebgate' row that cost Andrew Mitchell his job". The Telegraph. 24 March 2013.