Monday, 14 May 2012

The Police Federation's letter to David Cameron following the march has obtained a copy of the letter given to Prime Minister David Cameron last week following the Police Federation’s march through London. The march on May 10 culminated in the Police Federation of England and Wales handing in a letter to 10 Downing Street to outline its concerns about government austerity measures and the Winsor Review. 

A federation spokesman said the letter was more than just a gesture following the march – as the government itself seemed unclear on the Fed’s position. This letter therefore provided clarity:

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you as the statutory representatives of 135,000 police officers in England and Wales to inform you of the morale crisis amongst our membership. In recent months we have been inundated with telephone calls and correspondence from police officers who are angry, dismayed about their future, and completely demoralised. 

Through the introduction of the Winsor reviews they feel they are being treated differently and more harshly than any other public sector workers. They accept that the police service must share some of the financial burden of the economic crisis but feel they have been unfairly singled out and targeted by your Government.

For decades, successive Governments have respected the fact that police officers have restrictions on their private lives and work lives; whether that is restrictions on where an officer may live, the requirement to intervene in incidents when off-duty, or the fact that their hours of duty, rest days and annual leave can be changed or cancelled if operational reasons dictate. 

Your Government has broken this ‘covenant’; pushing ahead with the Winsor recommendations demonstrates a view that that there should be no protection of police officers’ terms and conditions or recognition of their unique employment status as holders of the office of constable.

In addition, proposed changes to privatise core policing functions will transform the British police service from one based on policing by consent, and that is the envy of the world, to a body of officers unable to develop and deliver policing skills other than the use of coercive force. 

Your ministers have given us assurances that they agree with us that the independent Office of Constable is the bedrock of policing; however, that independence is threatened with the proposed introduction of compulsory severance whilst the privatisation of policing will expose the public to an unaccountable second-tier of law enforcement.

Today thousands of police officers have taken a day’s holiday to come to London in their own time to make their voices heard. Many say they feel so under-valued that they are seriously thinking about leaving the police service.

This is an important and challenging year as we embark upon the biggest policing and security operation we have witnessed in this country: the 2012 Olympic Games. We are genuinely concerned that public safety will be jeopardised in the future if large numbers of police officers leave the service.

We would welcome an urgent meeting with you to discuss what we can do to avert this national crisis.

Yours sincerely,