PFEW conference: ‘How can it be right officers struggle to keep a roof over their heads?’ asks national secretary
The national secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) and former South Wales member Calum Macleod has told this year’s annual conference he would not join the service if he had his time again.
Speaking at the two-day event, Calum said policing had changed considerably since he joined in the 1990s and that, with the levels of pay, lack of support and increased scrutiny, he wouldn’t sign up to serve.
National secretary Calum Macleod has urged members to help the Federation drive change in policing
“I question why people would for the salary they achieve, for the support they do not achieve, why people would place themselves and their families at risk under the current climate,” he said, when asked by conference host TalkTV presenter Ian Collins whether ‘if he had his time again’ he would join the Force.
“I’m not saying it can’t be redressed, but if my 11-year-old came to me and said he wanted to join the police I’d be encouraging him to look in a different avenue.
“Policing is very rewarding and the sense of pride you get in making that significant difference - saving somebody’s life, attempting to save somebody’s life, arresting bad people - is massive.
“But you look at the wider context we operate in and you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. That level of scrutiny is only getting worse.
“I would like to see that redressed and policing back to where it needs to be for the public, because the public will lose out on this as much as officers are losing out.”
Calum told the conference that a Kings Counsel-led review has been commissioned by the Federation into police accountability.
The review would cover the use of force, pursuits and incidents that involve death or serious injury, he explained, adding that it will also scrutinise bodies that scrutinise the police.
Calum continued: “We need to be getting to a better position than we’re at at this moment.”
He said that pay and the levels of scrutiny were among the reasons for officers leaving the service, as he called on the political parties to make policing more of a priority.
“The Government needs to recognise policing,” he said. “It needs to be higher up the agenda.
“They need to recognise the risks and they need to reward properly, and they need to understand the role police officers play in society.
“I would encourage any political party to not only place policing higher up their list of priorities, as the safety and security of the public should be, but also include it higher up in their manifesto.”
Calum has held a series of positions in the Federation since becoming a rep in 2011, including the national chair and vice chair, as well as local sergeants’ chair for South Wales Police Federation and equalities liaison officer.
He was elected to the national committee to represent Wales and has been general secretary and treasurer for the former Sergeants’ Central Committee, as well as vice chair.
Officers working second jobs
Talking during the question and answer session during day one of the Conference, Calum said that pay would continue to be his top priority as he revealed he’d been contacted by officers for whom the recent seven per cent pay rise had “kept a roof over their heads or food on the table for their families”
Asked to comment on officers who were forced to take on second jobs, he said: “I would ask why is one job not enough?
“The plain and simple answer, police officers should be remunerated to an appropriate level to support them, their families and be comfortable - for the risks they undertake for society.
“How can it be right police officers struggle to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table and then be expected to run into a situation where someone is carrying an axe?
“Police officers should be appropriately paid.
“Let’s start with what they’re already down, 20p in the pound less than they had in 2010. That’s ridiculous.”
And he urged members to engage with the Federation to help it drive change.
“We’re united as an organisation when we speak with one voice,” he said. “We need to create a different future and the only way to do that is if members engage, we listen and act on their behalf.
“We need to speak with one voice. With one voice we’re incredibly powerful as an organisation.”
This year's online Conference continues today (Tuesday 10 October) and tomorrow (Wednesday 11 October). Register for this year's event and be part of the conversation.