When I started as Chairman at the start of April this year, one of the first things I needed to do was decide what next? I had already resolved to build on what Ian Pointon, the previous Chairman, had done and maintain the relationships he had forged with Chief Constable Alan Pughsley and the force SLT and countless vital people outside of Kent Police. One part of this was the invitation to the Federation Conference in May for Mr Pughsley. The Chief Constables attendance at the conference was greatly appreciated by all of the Fed reps present and the ability for reps to be able to talk and discuss what is going on with the Chief Constable is hugely beneficial. It shows the strength of the working relationship we have in Kent between the Force and the Federation.
I have also been able to attend SLT meetings on East and West divisions and hope to be at North soon. The purpose of the visits has been to build relationships and highlight the willingness to engage by Fed Reps and to promote what the reps within the divisions need to help those they represent.
So what is next? High on the agenda for me is stress. The last PFEW welfare survey showed 80% of respondents stating stress related issues affecting them and as workloads mount and cuts continue to take their toll, this will continue to be a key concern for all. I want to work with the force to ensure early engagement with staff, support and training for supervisors and managers and the adoption of recognised standards from the HSE as to how organisations can help staff on this issue. Much has already been done by the force and in many ways we are far ahead of other forces on this subject, but as always there is always more that can be done.
Linking to the above, the recent general election and the debate late on during the campaign around cuts and the consequences these have had, will continue to be a dominant issue. During the election I wrote to as many prospective parliamentary candidates as I could. I highlighted the fact that despite 'protected policing budgets' it was not a case of 'job done' in terms of policing. Decisions still have to be made about what we want modern policing to look like, what it is we ask of all members of the policing family to do, where is the policing frontline? How do we resource policing moving forward? How do we look after staff properly? These questions were quite rightly raised at the Federation conference. My intention is to continue to make contact, offer to meet with anyone who can influence the debate and take forward the cause of proper investment in policing and its people. What must be remembered and made clear to all, is that as things stand, police forces continue to be forced to make huge savings from their budgets over the next few years and that far from 'job done' the serious debates have yet to begin.
Another important area for me is early engagement and early resolution on all issues but in particular performance and misconduct. Matters should be resolved at the lowest possible levels and where appropriate, learning should be the outcome before anything else. What must always be remembered is that at the centre of these matters is an individual who deserves to be treated fairly. Strong, professional working relationships will be essential to this.
In addition, the Federation should be adopting later this year, the changes put forward by the Government some time ago around the structure of the Police Federation. A lot of work has been done by Federation staff to ensure we get the changes right first time. I'm determined that it won't affect the service that federated members get from the Federation Reps across Kent and that our end result will be a modern looking Federation reflecting the force structure of the members we work for.
In summary, the Kent Federation 'what next' or 'strategy' moving forward is about communication at all levels, it is to promote the key issues within policing in Kent with those who can influence and keep policing on the agenda. It is promotion of early engagement and resolution and looking after federated members interests and their health and welfare. Key issues in times of increasing demand and expectations on federated members.
One of the criticisms sometimes aimed at the federation is 'what do they do for us?' another is around lack of communication; this blog is my way of starting to answer those very valid questions.
Finally, I'd like to say thank you to those who perform the Fed Rep roles across the force. It is additional workload on top of busy jobs, often dealing with complex issues whilst supporting colleagues at a time of distress or anxiety. It isn't easy, but it is rewarding, knowing that you have helped someone at a critical time in their careers. I firmly believe that police forces in general cannot function effectively without efficient force wide Federation representation, assisting staff and providing feedback on numerous issues to their force.
For anyone considering becoming a Federation Rep, contact the office or speak to your local reps, it's always good to see more people getting involved.
Kent Police Federation