I feel very honoured and proud to be representing you as Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation.
The first thing I want to do is to pay tribute to outgoing Chair Mike Harrison.
I’ve known Mike and have had the pleasure of working with him, operationally and through the Federation for a number of years.
In fact, it was Mike who initially encouraged – I was going to say pestered – me to become a Federation Representative. So, he only has himself to blame for me being in the position to take over from him!
He’s done a great job both in the time he’s been Chair and in his previous work with the Federation, and particularly establishing the CAPLO role beforehand, now being ably performed by Tom Ford.
I couldn’t have picked a more challenging time to become Chair. One of the first things I want to do is get out and talk to as many different people as possible and because of the coronavirus pandemic, the one thing I’m not allowed to do is get out and talk to as many people as possible.
Our response to coronavirus is on everyone’s minds. So, my focus is picking up the work Mike and our Secretary Ian White have been doing to see officers through this period, which is potentially going to go on for quite a lot longer than many people think.
That response takes several forms. Operationally, we’re engaged nationally and locally around how officers enforce the coronavirus guidance. The legislation regarding coronavirus restrictions and the guidance that’s been publicised have often been odds, and officers have had to tread a fine, and rapidly evolving, line in how they engage with the public and enforce that legislation.
There are several related challenges for policing. While we see demand down in some areas, it’s going up in others, notably domestic abuse. Fortunately policing has managed to minimise the abstraction of officers due to coronavirus, which is tribute to the commitment and resilience of my fellow officers.
However, police forces must ensure that they continue to support officers as they mange this crisis. Whilst officers are key workers and have to go to work, they also have families and dependents like everyone else who are affected by what’s going on. We’re fortunate that our force have managed to balance the need to maintain operational resilience with doing the right thing by officers to enable them to continue coming to work.
I’m also keenly aware that many officers lives may have been significantly affected by coronavirus. Whilst police officers employment is secure, that may not be the case or many officers families, and like so many others we will undoubtedly see officers facing financial difficulties. The Federation will do its best to offer support to officers who finds themselves in that position.
We also know of officers who have lost loved ones to this virus, and they remain in our thoughts, and we will of course offer all the support we can to help them through this difficult time.
So, as your Branch Chair, there’s plenty for me to get stuck into. Finding my feet in the role is going to mostly be managing how we deal with coronavirus and then hopefully as this becomes the new normal and we settle back to some sort of normality I’ll start looking at what the role can achieve over the next year, 18 months, two years.
Like I say, I want to get out and start speaking to people. I’m the new Chair, and it’s all shiny and exciting, but it’s not really about me. I’m not coming into the job with a great manifesto of change.I want to be very much guided by the issues that the members are bringing to us. The Federation is there for it’s members – it’s not about what I want to do with the role; it’s what you, the members, want me to do with the role.
Personally I’ve just reached 18 years in service, which is beginning to make me feel old. I’m starting to use phrases like ‘in my day’ and ‘when I started’, and am now seeing new officers who were only just born when I joined!
I’ve had a varied career – I’ve spent the last four years as a Custody Sergeant. Prior to that I worked as a Staff Officer on the National Cybercrime portfolio, and before that, I worked mainly in response and public order policing. I became a Fed Rep four years ago.
Being Chair is such a great role for helping people. I’m in a position where, in lots of small ways, sometimes occasionally a few big ones, I can make a difference for colleagues. Please remember that myself and the Federation, your Reps, are there for you however you may need us.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be Chair. I am immensely proud to be doing the job. Thank you, too, for everything you continue to do for your communities, and each other.
Stay safe and stay well.