A fond farewell to Federation chair

Steve Treharne admitted he was far from running out of the door as he marked his final weeks as a police officer and as chair of South Wales Police Federation.
“I am really grateful for the policing career I have had,” he says, “So it will really be a fond farewell. But it’s the right time for me to leave and try something new.
“I have had great support from colleagues during my time in the Force, working with great teams with good supervisors. I have never faced any great personal adversity in the workplace and feel that I have been blessed to have had the career I have had.
“In my role with the Federation, I see the challenging circumstances officers go through when they are having difficulties in their role and when they face conduct or performance procedures.”
He leaves his Federation role proud of all that he has achieved. Taking on the chair’s role while still acting as the conduct and performance lead, he rose to the challenges brought by the pandemic when everyone had to adapt to working in a more fragmented way, took the branch’s audit status from amber to green, developed the closed Facebook page as a lively forum for South Wales Police Federation members, acting as the driving force behind the all-Wales tender for the Group Insurance Scheme, oversaw the purchase of the branch office at Pencoed and then developed, and future-proofed, the office for the benefit of the membership.


Steve firmly believes he leaves the branch in a good position, but nevertheless has one regret: not being able to have more of an impact on the strategic direction of the branch and the Federation.
“As a chair, you inevitably become consumed by the day-to-day running of the office, by supporting and representing members, by trying to ensure the branch is working effectively and efficiently but that means you have insufficient time to devote to the strategic requirements of the role. To a certain extent, you are just firefighting all the time,” he said.
His policing career is a far cry from his first job upon leaving school. He became a painter and decorator through an apprenticeship before then working on a self-employed basis on large construction projects.
But, when he met his wife, and the young couple planned their future together, he knew he needed a career with more stability and he started working for his local authority, initially being employed as a painter and decorator before redundancy loomed.
South Wales Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan, Diane Roberts (widow of Jeffrey Pitman)
and Steve Treharne.
On his last working day he was offered a role within the refuse and cleansing department, spending two years working on refuse collection and then four years as a road sweeper, picking up litter on the streets of his home town.
“I must admit I did feel a certain amount of shame and embarrassment initially, but that proved to be something of a turning point,” Steve explained, “I was out and about in the fresh air, talking to people and understanding and learning about my community. I have always looked back in fondness at this role and the opportunities that it gave me to understand my community.
“I got satisfaction out of serving my community, developing this further by becoming a search and rescue volunteer with the Coastguard and then standing for and gaining election as a councillor on the town council. This, in turn, through a desire to learn more about policing, led to me becoming a Special, which I thoroughly enjoyed.”

Police station

His day job also brought him into contact with police officers and he would regularly call in at the local police station where Sergeant Kevin Ghandy asked Steve if he had ever considered joining as a regular. The rest, as they might say, is history.
Steve applied to both the Dyfed Powys and South Wales forces and made his way through the selection processes for both – eventually settling on South Wales as he got an earlier start date – January 2001.
His initial training started with two weeks within South Wales Police Headquarters, followed by 15 weeks at the Police Training Centre in Bramshill, Hampshire and his first posting was to the Gorseinon district of Swansea where he recalls his first arrest was a female shoplifter who had stolen items from a store on Swansea’s High Street.
Steve’s grounding in serving the public in his previous roles stood him in good stead when he went on to take on a community policing role in Penlan.
“I really did appreciate the value of good community policing, just walking and talking to people. If people saw you regularly enough, they would come forward to share information, enabling you to gather intelligence about crime. It was good, old-fashioned community policing,” he said.
“But I had always had a goal of becoming a detective and working on serious crime so when the opportunity arose, I moved into Swansea CID, and I was there from 2004 until 2009, taking my National Investigators’ Examination and becoming an accredited detective, before then working on an attachment to the major crime team and also sitting my sergeants’ exam in 2010.”
While his public service had led him into policing, his union activities within the local authority also inspired him to want to support colleagues as a Federation representative.
He became a workplace representative in the 2013 triennial elections, encouraged and supported by South Wales Police Federation stalwart, the late, great Wayne Baker.

Heart attack

But just two years later, his life was to take an unexpected turn. Driving home from work on 6 March 2014, he had a heart attack. Fortunately, after surgery, he made a full recovery, pushing himself to be as fit and active as possible. Though initially, he did have to be reminded to take his time.
“I was extremely fortunate in that I had sustained a 100 per cent blockage of my LAD artery which is usually fatal. I still recall the words of the surgeon after the procedure where he told me that I must have had an angel sitting on my shoulder,” he explained.
“Six weeks after the heart attack, when I had just come to the end of my physical rehab, I planned to return to work but a wise old sergeant – Mike Davis – asked me what on earth I was doing coming back so soon after what I had just gone through,” Steve recalls.
“So, I had another six weeks off to concentrate not just on my physical recovery but also my psychological and mental health wellbeing. I was running, cycling and generally just concentrating on being as strong as I could be before returning to the organisation.
Steve has always spoken up to represent the views of the membership.
“I didn’t want to come back and be seen as a burden to the team I worked with. I didn’t want to be wrapped in cotton wool. This put me in a great place and what I feel is the reason why I have had such a great recovery from my medical event.
“But I was also aware that I had been working many extra hours to carry out my Federation role alongside my Force duties so I put in a call to the branch secretary – Clare Biddlecombe - and told her that I felt it might be best if I stood down as a rep, even though it was something I loved doing.
“Clare persuaded me not to stand down and advised me not to make a hasty decision and to this day I am eternally grateful to her for persuading me to pause and see how things went with my recovery. If she had accepted my initial decision, I would have lost the passion and vocation for something that had a deep sense of meaning to me – supporting and representing my colleagues.
“I then slowly became more involved, taking on the position of vice-chair of our branch in 2016. I was keen to increase my knowledge of all Federation matters, undertaking the conduct and performance courses, before then enjoying a temporary three-month placement as the conduct and performance liaison officer (CAPLO) in 2018 and thoroughly enjoying my new lease of life.


“Due to the period of austerity promotions within Force had been frozen for a long period and only recommenced a week after my heart attack, which left me pretty miffed! However, in 2017/2018 I was temporarily promoted within the Major Crime Team and passed my sergeants’ promotion board in mid-2018.
“The Federation was always my love and I always dreamt of being the chair so with that personal drive within me following my close call, I was determined not to sit back and to make it known that was what I wanted. you have to make your own opportunities but it is important to act honorably and with integrity.”
By October 2018, he had achieved his dream, taking over from Steve Trigg.
It was always his intention to serve two three-year terms as chair.  “There is a shelf life to this role,” he explains, “I have been incredibly proud to be the chair of South Wales Police Federation. It has been an honour and a privilege. But you are dealing with people who are going through dark days so, while it is rewarding to be able to offer support, guidance and representation, it can also be challenging. When you care about people you share the burden of their troubles and this can be challenging.
“My personality is such that I want to advocate for others. I have enthusiasm and passion for making positive changes and while you cannot always achieve the outcome you want there is a skill to managing expectations.”
Steve could have remained with the Force for a few more years if he wanted, but he has decided to leave and is looking at a new career path.
He admits the barrage of criticism of policing has had an impact, but believes that the whole service should not be judged on the acts of a small minority of officers who have brought policing into disrepute.
“The vast majority of officers come in to do their job professionally and to the best of their abilities, often putting themselves at risk to protect others and it is those officers who I have enjoyed working with and representing. I will miss policing and I will miss those colleagues. As I said earlier, I am grateful for the career I have had and I am saddened to be leaving, though I leave with a great sense of love and pride for the job, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”