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10 things you may not know about the Police Federation

The 90th annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales (commonly known as POLFED) starts today in Bournemouth. Running from 20-22 May, the event will see police officers from England, Wales, and further afield join with representatives from policing agencies, the legal profession, and the government to discuss pressing issues from the world of policing and within the Police Federation itself.

To mark the occasion, we’ve put together a list of 10 things you may not know about the Police Federation.

  1. The Police Federation was founded as result of the Police Act 1919. Ninety years earlier, the Police Act 1829 allowed for the official foundation of the Metropolitan Police, followed by the formation of regional forces across England, Wales, and the rest of the UK.
  2. The Federation was the first association officially created to protect the rights of police officers, providing a viable Government-supported alternative to the perceived threat of the growing trade union movement. Government officials were worried by continuing unrest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries relating to officers’ pay.
  3. Fallen London Police, 17 May 1919 in Parliament Square. CC BY-SA Leonard Bentley via Filckr
    Fallen London Police, 17 May 1919 in Parliament Square. CC BY-SA Leonard Bentley via Flickr.
  4. The Police Act 1919 also named the Home Secretary as responsible to Government for the police force, an appointment which continues today. As is tradition, current Home Secretary Theresa May will deliver a keynote speech to the annual Police Federation conference, an event which has previously proven controversial with the attendees.
  5. Representing all officers up to the rank of Chief Inspector, the Police Federation currently has around 127,000 members, from across the 43 forces of England and Wales. Officers above the rank of Chief Inspector are represented by either the Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales, or the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
  6. Outside of England and Wales, there are equivalent organisations across the UK including the Scottish Police Federation and the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, as well as specialist branches for the British Transport Police and the Defence Police Federation for Ministry of Defence Police staff.
  7. Before the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975, the police service ran separate establishments for men and women, allowing individual forces to control the number of women joining the police. Chief inspectors were responsible for designating appropriate roles for female officers.
  8. After an apparent rise in assaults on police officers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the deaths of two officers, the Police Federation successfully supported a movement for revised safety equipment. As well as uniform changes, the campaign introduced longer, Americanised truncheons, new ‘Quik-kuffs’, and stab-proof vests.
  9. UK police vehicles

  10. Although officially politically neutral, the Police Federation took a firm stance prior to the 1979 General Election, placing open letters to candidates in national newspapers. These letters were a sharp critique on the way the previous Labour government had handled police pay, legislation, and crime – things that Margaret Thatcher’s, ultimately successful, Conservative manifesto promised to improve.
  11. On 20 January 2014, the RSA published the Final Report of the Police Federation Independent Review. Led by Sir David Normington, the review panel assessed how the Police Federation could continue to “act as a credible voice for rank and file police officers.” The 36 recommendations outlined in the report will be discussed at the annual conference.
  12. This year’s conference will be the last public event of the current Chairman Steve Williams and General Secretary Ian Rennie, who have both chosen to leave their posts, and their roles within the police service, at the end of May.

Blackstone’s will be tweeting from the Police Federation conference. Follow @bstonespolice for our updates and join the conversation using #pfewconf14.

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Image credit: Uk police vehicles at the scene of a public disturbance. © jeffdalt via iStockphoto.

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