PFEW Annual Conference 2023: A review of day one
This year’s Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Annual Conference is well underway, with day one packed with debate, discussion and plenty of engagement from members from across the country.
The annual event, which this year is taking place online today (Tuesday 10 October) and tomorrow (Wednesday 11 October), is being hosted by TalkTV presenter Ian Collins.
PFEW chair Steve Hartshorn (right) talks to host Ian Collins during day one of the Federation's annual conference.
Day one of the agenda included a hard-hitting discussion shaped around leading in policing, a frank conversation focused on misogyny and a deep dive into Mutual Aid deployments.
Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Steve Hartshorn and deputy Tiff Lynch kicked off the Conference, with the pair reflecting on an ‘absolutely manic’ past year for policing.
“This year has been absolutely manic with policing issues. Not a day goes by that we’re not in the headlines, for one reason or another,” began Tiff, adding: “We need our key stakeholders coming out and speaking in support of us, not always criticising us. We need others to get behind us.”
Police pay is our priority
When asked what the Federation’s priority is, Steve responded: “The pay award - we received seven per cent, which is one of the highest we’ve had but we still want 17 [per cent]. We saw 9,000 officers leaving the Force, that’s not sustainable. The package needs to be attractive.”
Tiff added that officers ‘want consistency’. She explained: “And what I also think our officers want is a 21st century service that’s working to 21st century rules.”
In his update, PFEW secretary Calum Macleod admitted he would not join the Force if he had his time again.
“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,” said Calum, adding: “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.”
Echoing Steve and Tiff, Calum also addressed issues surrounding pay, specifically referring to cops having to take on a second job due to the current cost of living crisis.
He added: “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.”
Leadership in policing
The Leadership in Policing session was introduced by national board member and PFEW professional development lead Paul Matthews.
Paul began with a detailed look at what he believed was the failing of current and historic police leadership, shining a light on the lack of supportive, compassionate, loyal and inspiring leadership that is prevalent in forces today, up and down the county.
Paul, who was joined virtually by Ray Clare, head of leadership and progression at the College of Policing (CoP), said: “It is vital for officers to have leaders that use their experience to lead by example and who will listen to, and adapt to new ideas, rather than promote change for its own sake.
“In order for leadership to flourish we must end the continual promotion of those who challenge and delegate down, instead of those that have the confidence and ability to challenge upwards.”
PFEW women in policing co-lead and national board member Sue Honeywill led this year’s conversation around misogyny. She was joined by national board member and parliamentary lead Belinda Goodwin, national fire chief council lead for equality, diversity and inclusion Kathryn Billing, alongside ITV Wales News presenter Justina Simpson.
The panel took part in a frank and honest discussion about misogyny and sexism within the police, fire service and armed forces in recent years.
The conversation was heavily shaped around non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) being used to prevent victims from sharing their stories and experiences.
A session on Mutual Aid featured operational policing lead and national board member Steve Taylor and deputy health and safety lead and national board member Richie Murray.
The panel highlighted areas of concern during Mutual Aid deployments, including food, accommodation and allowances - suggesting inconsistency to be a serious issue.
Northumbria cop Joe Furniss receiving his National Response Officer of the Year award from Cumbria Police Chief Constable Rob Carden, the NPCC response lead.
Prior to lunch, this year’s National Response Officer of the Year was awarded to Northumbria cop Joe Furniss, who has spent his entire 22-year-long career in the role, allowing him to generate extensive knowledge of his local community within his patch.
The first session of the afternoon saw PFEW conduct and performance lead Phil Jones lead the conversation around the impact prpopsed changes made by the Home Office to the police officer dismissal process will have on members.
He was joined by the president of the National Association of Legally Qualified Chairs (NALQC) John Bassett and Greater Manchester chief superintendent Michael Allen.
The panel discussed members ‘being disproportionately disadvantaged by the presumption of dismissal’ with Phil suggesting that some officers ‘choose to be assaulted, rather than use force’, due to fears they could be found for misconduct - and worst, automatic dismissal, should the Home Office introduce these measures.
The penultimate session was titled ‘Retirement - transition into the unknown’, with the secretary of Norfolk Police Federation Sam Hawkins urging colleagues not to underestimate the transferable skills police officers have and values that are sought in other professions.
Appropriately the session was held on World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October), and heard from a recently retired officer that handing back the warrant card can feel life-changing and daunting. Plus, Rachel Roberts, a counsellor with South Wales Police explored the benefits of seeking help to ensure officers are best prepared.
A representative from savings and investment specialists Metfriendly was also on hand to answer audience questions on finances and pensions.
The last session of day one looked at disclosure and redaction, with Surrey Chief Constable and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for disclosure Tim De Meyer opening with: “Disclosure isn’t an afterthought, it’s the main event of an investigation.”
Mr Meyer was joined by the chair of the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) and the secretary of Suffolk Police Federation Ben Hudson who gave an update on the Federation’s #SimplifyDG6 campaign, which was launched in August last year.
Police Federation campaign
The campaign calls on the Government to make amendments to the Data Protection Act to simplify the redaction obligation placed on police officers.
Ben praised engagement from Mr Meyer, the NPCC, as well as various MPs across the country, who have all helped ‘propel’ the campaign forward.
“Since addressing you last, we have taken big steps forward,” said Ben, as he called on the Government to amend the data protection and digital information bill. The proposed amendment would have no disadvantages and instead, unnecessary redaction would be avoided.
“Adopting this approach enables the government to demonstrate that they are supportive of policing and freeing up thousands upon thousands of hours nationally, for our members to dedicate their services back to the frontline.”
Steve Hartshorn concluded the day’s agenda by thanking panellists, board members, Federation colleagues and Federation members for their engagement.
Members are being encouraged to get involved with day two of the Annual Conference 2023 tomorrow (Wednesday 11 October). Register for the event and be part of the conversation.