“An exciting, interesting and all round informative conference”.
That’s how the 2017 Police Federation of England and Wales annual conference, held in Birmingham, has been described.
Speaking after the two day event, Chair, Steve White, said it had been one of the best conferences yet.
“We had a new, shorter, format this year, and I think overall it’s been a huge success. I want to say a huge thank you to our guests and all those involved in the various sessions who spoke – having such a range and expertise of people to share their views about the issues facing policing today has been invaluable.”
The conference opened on Tuesday, with Mr White recognising the valiant efforts of Tobias Elwood, a parliamentary candidate, who tried to save PC Keith Palmer at Westminster. Mr Elwood gave an emotional address, and was presented with a token of appreciation by the Federation.
Vice-Chair Calum Macleod expanded on the conference theme, Protecting the Protectors, using examples of assaulted officers to highlight why this needs to be taken more seriously. Policing Minister, Brandon Lewis, gave his support to the campaign, agreeing that attacks on officers should incur “the full weight of the law”. He stopped short of indicating any further measures to ensure more appropriate punishments for offenders.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, hailed the “courage, dedication and compassion” of the police, and admitted that while tough decisions had been made in the past, it was for the good of the public.
The Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, came under fire for about spit-guards, but praised the police service for their work on diversity and body-worn video.
Officers confronted the IPCC’s Dame Anne Owers, expressing their frustration at long, drawn-out investigations, while she conceded more could be done to streamline their processes. The Roads Policing session drew a firm commitment from Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC lead on roads policing, to work closely with the Federation to get better protections for police drivers. Officers in another session shared how the job impacted their mental health and urged chiefs to spend more money on protecting officer well-being.
Two awards were also given; the first to West Midlands Constable Adam Koch, who given a Safariland SAVES Club award after surviving a horrific knife attack. The Women in Policing Award, was given to Detective Constable Keeley Mansell for her work establishing best practice for dealing with the menopause in the workplace.
Other break-out sessions included: modern slavery, equality in the workplace, discipline and performance, and pay and conditions.
Mr White said that one of the pertinent points that were made throughout the conference was that everything isn’t fine in the police service in England and Wales at the moment.
“Whoever is in government post-election, they absolutely must make sure that the police service for the future has the resources, equipment and the protection that they need.
“We are proud to be British police officers. We are proud to do our duty. All we ask is that government does its duty too. And protects the protectors.”