Police Federation response to reporting of MP Dominic Raab’s FOI findings

24 August 2011

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed there were 67 full-time union representatives in the Ministry of Justice and at least 268 part-time with a total bill of just under £6M

Responding to articles recently run in the Telegraph, Express and Daily Mail newspapers regarding the cost of the Federation and ‘other unions’ to the tax payer.

Mark Botham, Chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation says:

The Police Federation of England and Wales was set up under statute to ensure the welfare and efficiency of the police service and is regulated by Parliament. We are not a union but a staff association for police officers, and currently we have over 138,000 members from the rank of constable to chief inspector. Lord Edmund Davies recommended that full-time Federation representatives should be introduced following the Independent Royal Commission into Policing in 1978.

The Police Federation represents members during grievances and welfare issues and acts as the voice of rank-and-file officers. Federation representatives deal with all modern employment issues at a local level and are able to assist forces to deal with grievances and problems before they become legalistic and expensive. Our members also fund two convalescent homes to facilitate the recovery and recuperation of injured officers. Recent newspaper articles failed to report that The Department of Trade and Innovation has estimated that the savings made through our representatives to the economy is between £476m and £1.1b. If the Federation did not exist, these kinds of costs would be borne by the tax payer.

Police officers are regularly involved in incidents in the course of their duty, which require legal representation, and normally this would be funded by their employer – in our case it would be the Police Authority. If this liability, currently funded through Police Federation subscriptions, was passed over to Police Authorities then it would cost them up to £10m a year.

The staffing levels for North Yorkshire Police Federation were initially agreed under the tenure of David Kenworthy as Chief Constable when North Yorkshire Police Authority commissioned Price Waterhouse Cooper to validate the work done in the largest single county in England & Wales. They concluded that many of the functions carried out by the federation in North Yorkshire significantly benefit the force.

Our business model was reviewed in 2007 and again in 2010 by the current Chief Constable, Grahame Maxwell.

There is a bitter irony that this story has been brought about by a nationwide FOI request by Conservative MP Dominic Raab. Presumably he does not mind that the back office staff who have had to work on this are the ones his government much malign.

Perhaps rather than making this blanket FOI request across the country his services would have been better employed making his party own up to a few truths:

FACT – The Government’s funding to the police has been cut by 20% in real terms: Pg 54, Comprehensive Spending Review, “Central government police funding will reduce by 20 per cent in real terms by 2014-15.” http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_completereport.pdf

FACT – The Government is encouraging local authorities to freeze council tax – meaning forces would not benefit from any increase in precept

FACT – The Home Secretary when making a speech last week used a cobbled together, made-up cash figure. She ignored her own Comprehensive Spending Review, Budget and the Government’s published real terms figure. When most of the police savings required relate to procurement, purchasing power and inflation have to be considered. Using a cash figure is irrelevant.

FACT – Dr Timothy Brain, former Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, has suggested the Home Secretary has been “double counting” what forces can receive from Council Tax increases. The 20% cut already includes the police receiving a Council Tax Freeze Grant in lieu of increases to the precept: ‘Police Funding (England & Wales) 2011-12’, Universities Police Science Institute Report, August 2011 http://www.upsi.org.uk/home/2011/8/12/funding-cuts-to-hit-local-policing-hardest.html

FACT – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report on force funding shows that big forces, suffering big cuts, rely on central govt funding more than some other forces. This means that for Manchester Northumbria the precept debate is a red herring: Adapting to Austerity: A review of police force and authority preparedness for the 2011/12–14/15 CSR period, HMIC, July 2011. The Home Affairs Select Committee has published a chart showing which forces rely on central government funding for more than 70% of their total resources: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmhaff/695/695.pdf

FACT – Over 16,000 police officers are being lost across the country because of the Government’s 20% cut.

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