United we stand…

Those of you who have been following my tweets this evening may wonder what’s the matter with me. I’ve been a strong supporter of the Police Federation from the day I started tweeting and blogging. I’ve supported the three branches (Constables, Sergeants, Inspectors) equally and have always promoted good work.

After the recent pensions update which is on the whole bad news for 1000’s of police officers there has been much anger. Officers are angry at the deal we have been given. This often seems to be under the misapprehension that the Police Federation have negotiating rights within the police pension scheme. They don’t. Essentially the Home Secretary can do what she likes. However, the Police Federation can choose to be engaged in this process and Ian Rennie outlined this in his recent communication.

Paul McKeever, our current national chair, announced his retirement a while ago and in the last few days the new national chair elect was selected. It was a two-horse race between Julie Nesbitt (Constables national chair) and Steve Williams ( General secretary of Inspectors central committee) Steve was the one chosen and will replace Paul at the appropriate time. This was announced on 6th September by the Police Federation.

On the following day, the 7th, the Constables Chair Julie Nesbit posted a letter on the Police Constables website. Over the next 24hrs the @theconstables account on twitter has been promoting this letter and its call to arms.

I had some reservations about this campaign so did some research and found that the @pfewsergeants account hadn’t tweeted about this campaign but had retweeted one tweet by another account that mentioned it. The @policefedicc account has made no mention of it whatsoever. Considering how important this campaign would appear to be I found myself somewhat confused.

This got me to thinking and suddenly the message that came out loud and clear from the letter of Julie Nesbit was sour grapes. It was redolent of someone who hasn’t got their own way and so is now going to cause a stir and do their own thing. A maverick. This was my gut reaction. It has been right in the past. It’s also been wrong. As a result I began to tweet about this. I had a very healthy dialogue with a number of accounts but none answered the direct question about whether this action was fully supported by every central committee. The answer was not forthcoming but after many tweets it began to come out that this was a national strategy and the CCC’s have to feed back into the JCC so this was not a maverick action. So I took a look at the letter again. There are a number of passages that indicate anger that appears to be directed at the national JCC/Chair.

This means managing politics at the top and ensuring the clear leadership we are mandated to deliver is delivered effectively.

I’m not sure what is supposed to be meant by this statement but it as it reads to me it is criticism of the internal politics of the Police Federation at national level and it’s inability to progress the ballot.

The time for niceties and archaic protocols are over.

Again, this is not directed at the Govt and the pension reforms. This is directed, especially when previous sentences are read, directly at the lack of access to contact their own members directly and as such another pop at the JCC. It goes on to say the inability to communicate in such a way is ridiculous and cannot continue. It then invites all constables to register so they have contact details to communicate with them.

It would be fair to say that the Police Federation as a whole appear to have been dragging their feet about the ballot of members on rights to industrial action and the eduction plan that must precede it. I do not know why and I can remember sitting and talking to Eddie Mair on BBC radio 4 about this on the day of the London March in May this year. Nothing so far has happened which is not inspiring. I’m not an advocate of industrial action and have a firm belief that the Government will simply refuse this on the basis of national security. This is discussed in my blog here.

However, I had concerns that the CCC action was fuelled by inaction and also by a lost opportunity for the national chair. A number of accounts have since fell in to support this campaign and told me it’s a national action and the Sgts and Inspectors committees will follow in due course but the response is not overwhelming.

This is quite possibly the most important issue that faces police officers in this country today. If this is a national action why is the main PFEW twitter account not shouting it from the treetops? I have been told that the Constables website is up and running and can promote it now and the Sgt/Insp’s will follow when they can. If this is a national issue that is being coordinated from Leatherhead why is the Constables letter so critical? If this is a national action, notwithstanding lack of websites, why are the Sgts and Insp’s twitter accounts not pushing it as hard as the Constables are? Is this because the Constables have taken the bull by the horns and the Sgt/Insp’s are reticent or is it like this because the Constables have gone out on a limb and the Sgt’s and Insp’s are looking on wondering what they are doing? If this is a national action why is there no press release on the PFEW website?

At a time when we need clarity the constables CCC appear to be causing confusion. At a time when we need to all be singing from the same hymn sheet the constables appear to have a different tune. If this is a national strategy then it is disjointed, unclear and ambiguous. It is not being managed properly and is a shambles. It takes no time at all to set up a website page and even less time to promote something on twitter. It takes no time at all, even in the absence of a website, to promote the request the constables CCC have been quick to post on their site and utilise that to maximum effect. After all we are ALL constables!

However, until I get strong evidence to the contrary, no matter what their true motive may be, this mismanaged approach is likely to cause division and thereby undermine our overall national strength.

United we stand… divided we fall.

It’s about time the three central committees got their heads together with the JCC and sorted this out once and for all.


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