As ever, you flatter me too much, Mr Speaker.
I beg to move,
That this House
notes the Independent Review of the Police Federation conducted by Sir David Normington and calls upon the Government to take action to implement the report’s recommendations and to reform the Police Federation.
I spent a large proportion of the last decade defending the police one way or another, yet I have never experienced a time when public trust in the police was at a lower level. In my view that is a tragedy, both for the vast majority of decent officers who joined up to catch criminals and protect the public, but also for the wider public. We must deal firmly with those who bring the police into disrepute if we are to restore the reputation that most policemen properly deserve.
There was a similar crisis of confidence as far back as 1918-19 after the police strikes of those years, the first of which was called during wartime and caused a similar low perception of the standing of the police. That strike was ended after one day. The police were granted a considerable pay increase, but as a result, as a vital service they were forbidden both membership of a trade union and the right to strike. The Government effectively established the Police Federation in place of a union, to represent the concerns of police officers around the country. They gave it a statutory closed shop, which lasts to this day.
There is no doubt that the Police Federation had a noble beginning, and for many years it was a constructive force behind British policing, raising the reputation of the British copper to the position it ought to hold. Regrettably, the federation today is a bloated and sclerotic body, and has acquired the worst characteristics of the worst trade unions that we thought—and hoped—we had seen the end of in the ’70s.