Police Federation Chairman Steve Williams has commented on the recent independent review into the organisation, responding specifically to issues around the ‘plebgate’ affair. Speaking at a media briefing earlier this week, he said: “The independent review details the damage that has been done to the Police Federation – and the Police Service – by the impact of ‘plebgate’. Where police get it wrong it is only right and proper that we take responsibility for our actions.
“Following the conviction of PC Keith Wallis it is appropriate that I apologise to Mr Mitchell for the officer’s actions.”
The review by the Action and Research Centre, which was commissioned directly after plebgate, makes the case for what it calls fundamental reform of the organisation in order to make it ‘once again the trusted voice of frontline officers.’
Issues raised by the report include: ‘Lack of openness and transparency about its affairs and finances; weak accountability to members and the public; inability to promote good behaviour and professional standards; and internal divisions that have hampered its effectiveness and reputation.’
Speaking of the report’s 36 recommendations – which include a new ethics, standards and performance process -, Chairman of the review panel Sir David Normington said: “We have no doubt that frontline police officers need an effective voice to represent their interests. But we are equally clear from the evidence we heard that the Federation is not fulfilling that function well enough at the moment and needs major reform.
“There is an urgent need for it regain the trust of its members. If it is to regain its influence, it must put behind it the internal distrust and divisions which are such a feature of its present operations.”
He continued: “We were encouraged that the Federation set up the review in the first place and gave us a free hand to report exactly what we found. That gives us encouragement that there is willingness among the current leadership to seize this moment and get on and implement our report.”