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Refreshing to hear Home Secretary ask for views and feedback

  • Posted On 25 May 2018

    The new Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the national Police Federation conference that he wants to ‘re-set the relationship between the Government and the police’.

    While addressing delegates in his keynote speech on Day 2 of the conference at the ICC in Birmingham, the newly-appointed minister said he wanted to work closely with officers and officials to shape a better future.

    Following predecessor Amber Rudd’s hard-line approach to last year’s conference speech, Mr Javid was much more personable and said he understood forces were over-stretched and under-resourced, claiming he wanted to tackle issues head on with the help of the Federation.

    West Midlands Police Federation acting chair John Williams said he was pleased Mr Javid wanted a strong working relationship.

    “The issues we are currently facing in the police service are well documented and time is running out in our bid to fix them before it is too late,” says John, “The last thing we need is for a new Home Secretary to come in and make a load of false promises just to appease conference. His predecessors have been guilty of that in the past.

    “So it was good to hear him say that he didn’t have all of the answers immediately but that he would do all he could to tackle the issues as soon as possible.

    “It was refreshing to hear him make a genuine plea for the views of officials, rank and file. That feedback would illustrate the real needs of the police service and allow him to go to Government meetings well-armed in attempts to get the funding and resources we require to do our jobs properly.

    “This can’t come soon enough but we have to be wary that he has only been in office for three weeks so some element of time has to be afforded.”

    Addressing a conference hall of some 1,000 representatives from across the country, Mr Javid said he knew there was much work that needed to be done.

    “I’m not arrogant enough to turn up here after three weeks in the job and tell you how to do yours. What I will say is that I am listening and I get it,” he told delegates.

    “I will prioritise police funding in the Spending Review and I want us to totally transform the welfare provision for officers. That’s why I am backing the Assaults on Emergency Service Workers’ Bill and supporting changes to the rules on police pursuits.

    Mr Javid said he wanted to meet officers and have their input to help shape the future. He is a supporter of a full roll-out of body-worn cameras and the distribution of spit and bite guards. He was pro-Taser and wanted to give officers the powers to use all of the equipment at their disposal.

    But he wanted more feedback from officers, forces and Federation branches alike.

    “Your ideas and responses will inform what happens next in policing,” he said, “Because I understand that no-one knows more about policing than you do.”

    The Home Secretary promised: “I will give you the tools, the powers and the back-up that you need to get the job done. For those of you who stand on the front-line, be in no doubt, I will be standing with you.”

    Responding to Mr Javid’s speech, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), Calum Macleod, said he wanted the Home Secretary to learn the lessons his predecessors had failed to do.

    “We have to work with the Home Office and with Government to ensure positive changes for our membership and for the public are achieved – and that needs to start today,” said Calum.

    “He has certainly taken a different stance from his predecessor – certainly been more constructive. I think the audience appreciated that – but as I say, words are one thing, delivery is something else – and we need to get delivery for today, for tomorrow, and for five years’ time.

    “There are risks police officers are facing that need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

    A Q & A session rounded off the Home Secretary’s appearance with questions from the floor which led to some lively debate.

    Mr Javid’s speech was the highlight of Day 2 of conference but there was also a number of other sessions.

    The issue of pay and conditions began proceedings with the Federation’s general secretary Andy Fittes leading a discussion around subjects including apprenticeships.

    Andy was also on stage in the final session of the day when speakers outlined plans for the future of the Federation.

    Before then, conference had broken up into three break-out sessions to discuss the ‘Crisis in Detectives’, a look at ‘A Career in Policing’ and a seminar entitled ‘Protecting Our Communities’, which featured the Federation’s operational policing lead, Simon Kempton, and the NPCC’s lead for local policing, Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole.

    There will be full reports on all conference sessions with feedback from your West Midlands representatives in your next members’ magazine.

     
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