Cleveland Police Federation
Cleveland Police Federation

Chair hopes new Home Secretary can find the answers

The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has told the national Police Federation conference that he wants to 're-set the relationship between the Government and the police'.

In addressing delegates in his keynote speech on Day 2 at the ICC in Birmingham, the newly-appointed minister said he wanted to work closely with officers and officials to shape a better future.

Following predecessor Amber Rudd's hard-line approach to last year's conference speech, Mr Javid was much more amenable and said he understood forces were over-stretched and under-resourced, claiming he wanted to tackle issues head-on with the help of the Federation.

Cleveland Police Federation chair Andrea Breeze said it was a refreshing approach.

"I was pleased that he repeatedly stated he wanted to work with the police and needed our help and views because we are the people on the front-line," says Andrea.

"Having a brother who is a police officer will clearly give him a different perspective on the issues we face. He will have an understanding of those issues and will hopefully be more aware of the effect those problems can have on police, their families and the communities they protect.

"Amber Rudd gave very little back to the police service during her time as a Home Secretary and only time will tell whether Mr Javid will be able to provide more answers to the questions we are asking.

"He has only been in the job for less than a month so we have to give him some time but, as we all know, the issues we face are not ones that can be ignored for too long. Things are at breaking point and we need resolutions now."

Addressing a conference hall of some 1,000 representatives from across the country, Mr Javid said he knew there was much work that needed to be done.

"I'm not arrogant enough to turn up here after three weeks in the job and tell you how to do yours. What I will say is that I am listening and I get it," he told delegates.

"I will prioritise police funding in the Spending Review next year and I want us to totally transform the welfare provision for officers. That's why I am backing the Assaults on Emergency Service Workers' Bill and supporting changes to the rules on police pursuits."

Mr Javid said he wanted to meet officers and have their input to help shape the future. He is a supporter of a full roll-out of body-worn cameras and the distribution of spit and bite guards. He was pro-Taser and wanted to give officers the powers to use all of the equipment at their disposal.

But he wanted more feedback from officers, forces and Federations alike.

"Your ideas and responses will inform what happens next in policing," he said, "Because I understand that no-one knows more about policing than you do."

The Home Secretary added: "I will give you the tools, the powers and the back-up that you need to get the job done.

"For those of you who stand on the front-line, be in no doubt, I will be standing with you."

Responding to Mr Javid's speech, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), Calum Macleod, said he wanted the Home Secretary to learn the lessons his predecessors had failed to do.

"We have to work with the Home Office and with Government to ensure positive changes for our membership and for the public are achieved - and that needs to start today," said Calum.

"He has certainly taken a different stance from his predecessor - certainly been more constructive. I think the audience appreciated that - but as I say, words are one thing, delivery is something else - and we need to get delivery for today, for tomorrow, and for five years' time.

"There are risks police officers are facing that need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed as a matter of urgency."

A Q & A session rounded off the Home Secretary's appearance with questions from the floor which led to some lively debate.

Mr Javid's speech was the highlight of Day 2 at the ICC in Birmingham but there was also a number of other sessions.

The issue of pay and conditions began proceedings with the Federation's general secretary, Andy Fittes, leading a discussion around subjects including apprenticeships and starting salaries for new recruits.

Andy was also on stage in the final session of the day when speakers outlined plans for the future of the Federation.

Before then, conference had broken up into three breakout sessions to discuss the 'Crisis in Detectives', a look at 'A Career in Policing' and a seminar entitled 'Protecting Our Communities', which featured the Federation's operational policing lead, Simon Kempton and the NPCC's lead for local policing, Simon Cole.

There will be full reports on conference in the next Cleveland Police Federation magazine.