My final blog......as Chairman.
After 32+ years the time has come to say cheerio and wander off into retirement; albeit a temporary retirement.
It seems a lifetime ago when I stood as a 19 year old on Crewe railway station waiting to board a train to a new life as a police officer in Kent. All of my then short life was packed into an old, blue, cardboard suitcase; one of those with a small, plastic handle perfectly designed for cutting off the blood supply to your fingers.
Fairly early in my career, I realised that whilst police officers were supremely confident at dealing with the public's problems, far too many seemed unable or unwilling to speak up against internal unfairness. In 1992 I remember being in the canteen (yes, they did exist) at Tunbridge Wells police station when Inspector Jan Berry (former National Chair of PFEW) said to me, "You've always got a lot to say. You ought to stand as a Fed Rep." The rest as they say is history. So, if you have any complaints, blame Jan Berry!
For the last 15 years I have been Chairman of Kent Police Federation, a fairly unique position within policing. I have always tried to give a voice to policing and police officers; tried to bring balance to the sadly all too often negative stories. There is no doubt I have become removed from frontline policing. Thankfully, in the last 15 years nobody has ever sought my advice on the finer points of road traffic law. Rather they have wanted to tap into my knowledge of their terms and conditions; they have wanted my expertise as an advocate, to represent them in some formal process. I have always seen the Police Federation as a specialism within policing.
I'd like to thank Chief Officers and colleagues in the Superintending ranks. Time and again you have shown a willingness to listen and be open-minded in the interests of reaching a sensible compromise.
To my colleagues in the Federation and Benevolent Offices, I give a huge thank you. Peter, Melanie, Mike, Tim, Gary and Debbie, your professionalism, support and camaraderie have been second to none.
I, along with the other full-time officials, can only do so much. Behind us is an army of local Federation Representatives. Ladies and gents, you work tirelessly for the benefit of others often in your own time when you've finished your day job. I know how hard that can be. Thank you for all your hard work and the support you have given me. The Police Federation is not some inanimate object; it is full of real people doing their very best for their colleagues.
Chris Carter will soon be Chairman of Kent Police Federation. Chris, I wish you all the best for the future. I have watched you over the last few weeks and I know you will do the membership proud. The Joint Branch Board has elected the right person. If you get stuck though, you know where I am.
Over the last 30 years I have seen roles within policing develop beyond all recognition. The delivery of policing is no longer the preserve of police officers. Whether you are police staff, PCSO, member of the Special Constabulary or other volunteer, you should all be proud of the part you play in policing Kent.
Last but by no means least I thank you, the membership. It has been an honour and a privilege to represent you. You have kept me in touch with the realities of policing enabling me to speak for you. Policing is far more complex and accountable than when I joined. I never dreamed we would reach the point where we're filming the public as they film us, whilst someone else films us both filming each other. On that note I wish you all the very best for the future.
Finally, whilst policing has undoubtedly changed over my 3 decades, some things have not, as clearly demonstrated during the recent terrorist outrage in Westminster. Policing is still a noble and honourable profession full of ordinary people doing an extraordinary job dedicated to protecting the public and making a real difference to people's lives.
I salute you all.
Chairman (for a few more hours)
Kent Police Federation