The Police Federation should not be blamed for doing their job!

Every worker is entitled to representation no matter what!

As reported in Sunday’s Observer (Andrew Kersley & Mark Townend.)

“Revealed: one in 100 police faced criminal charge in 2022

  • Figure has surged over the last 10 years
  • Pressure to sack officers on the spot

Shocking figures obtained by the Observer show roughly one in 100 police officers in England and Wales faced criminal charges, including for sexual offences, last year alone.

An Observer investigation has found that the Police Federation, the staff association for police officers, received 1,387 claims for legal support from members facing criminal charges in 2022.”

Trade unions are supposed to represent members – that’s why they exist! While the Police Federation is not a trade union, it’s the closest thing the police are allowed to represent them. BECTU – the trade union I worked for, would continue to pay for the legal representation of its members after the employer’s internal processes had failed if they had a 51% chance of success.

“The data also suggested that the number of officers facing criminal charges has skyrocketed by 590% since 2012. That year, just 235 claims were made for Police Federation legal support by its members.”

I’d like to know why that is the case.

“The Police Federation of England of England and Wales represents around 140,000 former and serving police officers and spends millions of pounds a year in legal fees, which help defend those accused of severe misconduct or even criminality. The organisation is a statutory staff association, meaning all police officers become members by default when they join any force in England and Wales.”

In the line of work that police do, I am not surprised the Police Federation spends millions defending officers. This report doesn’t say how many cases are defended successfully or how many cases against police officers are found without merit.

“One campaign group said the federation was always ready to ‘defend the indefensible’ and was a ‘major obstacle to dealing with racism and misogyny in the police.”

As a union official, I’ve had to defend bullies and racists. If they are members they have to legal right to representation. This article doesn’t say who paid for Wayne Couzen’s case (Legal Aid did), probably because it doesn’t fit the story the paper wants to tell.

“Last week, it was revealed that a former federation chairman John Apter would not face prosecution over two sexual assault allegations made against him. Apter was suspended by the Police Federation and by Hampshire Constabulary in December 2021.”

It was the CPS who decided that the case against John Apter did not, “did not meet the threshold for prosecution.”

“The kind of criminal charges faced by police officers can range from misconduct in a public office and sending grossly offensive messages on a network to more serious offences including assault, sexual offences and even murder.

The new data comes amid a growing number of cases of serious criminality by officers. Earlier this month, former Met officer David Carrick was jailed for life after he raped, assaulted and inflicted ‘irretrievable destruction’ on at least 12 women.”

Again this report talks about the most horrendous cases rather than the figures we need to see. 

“In 2021, another serving police officer, Wayne Couzens, used his police ID and handcuffs to kidnap, rape and murder 33-year-old Sarah Everard. Last month Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley said it was ‘crazy’ that he is unable as commissioner to sack ‘toxic’ officers suspected of serious crimes after it was revealed 150 officers were under investigation for sexual misconduct or racism.”

Surely Sir Mark Rowley is not arguing against officers receiving fair hearings and due process? 

“The London mayor, Sadiq Kan, has now written to the home secretary asking her to urgently push through new laws allowing police chiefs to sack rogue officers on the spot. Although the Home Office is currently reviewing policing’s dismissal processes following the failure to remove Carrick as a Serving officer, Khan is frustrated that existing laws mean that the Met is still being forced to employ officers who have committed serious offences.

Last week, it was revealed that a Met officer caught publicly masturbating twice on a train was still serving after the force could only issue him with another written warning.”

I want to know why that’s the case? Why masturbating on a train is not gross misconduct. Could that be because he wasn’t in uniform?! Surely, it’s still gross misconduct by someone in public office? However, this report doesn’t tell me. Also, isn’t this offence like flashing on a spectrum of sexual offences leading up to the rape and murder Wayne Couzens’ committed? Remember Couzens started offending by flashing? Surely ALL sexual offences should mean dismissal from the police? After due process.

“The Met admitted last month it was investigating 1,000 sexual and domestic abuse claims involving about 800 of its officers. Khan wrote to Suella Braverman on Friday, saying ‘it is incomprehensible to the public that under current regulations the Met can be required to reinstate serving officers convicted of a criminal offence’. A Home Office source said Khan’s intervention was an attempt to ‘cover up for years of failure in which as commissioner responsible for the Met police he has done very little.

Quoting politicians playing politics rather than giving the substance needed.

“The Observer investigation also found a sharp rise in the number of misconduct and gross misconduct claims recorded by the Police Federation. The net total related to the two shot up from 418 in 2018 to 598 last year, a 43% rise.”

Why? Could the Observer not have interviewed ex-coppers or someone from the Police Federation?

“Misconduct charges are less serious and relate to breaking of workplace rules, while gross misconduct relates to more serious acts, including criminal actions, that could warrant immediate dismissal.”

So the police can immediately dismiss? I thought the problem was that they couldn’t? In what circumstances and when has dismissal been applied? We’re not told, or they didn’t ask?

“The two officers who shared photos of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman and described the pair as ‘dead birds’ both faced gross misconduct charges, before eventually being jailed for misconduct in a public office.”

Jaffer resigned from the Met, and Lewis was sacked – at what point was he sacked? It does feel frustrating that Jaffer was allowed to resign – surely the Met could have refused to accept his resignation until the conclusion of their investigation? It is the only circumstance I have ever advised a member to resign – when the case against them is overwhelming, and resignation looks better on your employment record than being dismissed. However, an employer doesn’t have to accept a resignation.

“The data in question, disclosed in a Freedom of Information request, relates to claims made to the Police Federation for support by members. The Observer understands one claim can relate to a person facing multiple criminal charges at once.

While members could, in theory, make multiple requests for support in the same year, the Police Federation did not disclose if or how often this is the case.

The group refused to comment on any of the Observer’s other findings, or disclose what, if any, types of more serious criminal charges did not receive legal support from the organisation.

I would like to know the answer to this one and the criteria by which they decide.

A spokesman for police reform campaigners Netpol said: ‘For as long as we can remember, the Police Federation has portrayed its members as victims, quickly dismissing most complaints as frivolous and condemning critics of police misconduct.

Senior officers insist they intend to restore the damage to public confidence created by a wave of negative stories. Yet more than any other staff organisation, it is genuinely representative of the current state of policing in Britain: unable to comprehend why change is needed and, without enormous outside pressure, always ready to defend the indefensible.’

A willful misunderstanding of what the Police Federation is there to do? It’s not the BMA; it’s not there to judge police officers. It exists to represent them – a different job entirely.

The problem with the police is that they must catch up with the times. “Two Dead Birds” almost sounds like a headline the Sun would have run 40 years ago. The three officers who received the pictures were not sacked – challenging to prove they’d seen them? The Independent Office for Police Conduct decided their fate – that is who this article should be criticizing. They should have been given a final written warning unless it could be prove they seen the photos in which case they should have been dismissed for not reporting.

Could not the likes of Mina Smallman (mother of Bibaa and Nicole) and eminently sensible not be involved in setting the standards going forward? Someone to represent the way Britain should be thinking today? And so what modern policing should reflect?

#PoliceFederation #MinaSmallman #BibaaHenryNicoleSmallman @MinaSmallman

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