Rebellion in police ranks in wake of Plebgate affair

A row over pay and conditions and following resignation of Chief Whip has pitted constables against senior officers

Britain’s police officers are beset by infighting between ranks, leading to a damaging internal rift in the aftermath of the Plebgate scandal which threatens to undermine their opposition to the Government’s police reforms.

The Police Federation, which represents 131,000 officers up to the rank of chief inspector in England and Wales, is split over plans to reform itself after setbacks in its campaign to protect officers’ pay and conditions, and the firestorm over its role in the downfall of the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell. The dispute has pitted constables – who represent the majority of the membership – against more senior ranks in the organisation.

It has also sparked fury among rank-and-file officers who say the dispute is hampering the group’s fight against government reforms to cut pay, end the jobs-for-life culture and change pensions. “The Home Office must be clapping its hands with glee,” one Federation source told The Independent. “The Federation is doing to itself everything that the Government would want.”

Mr Mitchell’s confrontation with officers in Downing Street provided a rallying point after a series of reversals in 2012 during police officers’ battles against government reforms. The most vocal opponents of Mr Mitchell came from  Federation members in the Midlands where officials repeatedly pressed for his resignation.

Mr Mitchell eventually quit, but Scotland Yard later launched an inquiry after allegations of a conspiracy and that officers colluded to leak details of the confrontation. Mr Mitchell  claims he is the victim of a stitch-up.

Three  Federation officials from the Midlands are under investigation over comments they made to the media after a meeting with Mr Mitchell. The incident led to a rift between the national leadership and the branch officials. The dispute prompted the review – headed by the senior civil servant Sir David Normington –which is due to report in January next year.

However, the constables’ branch has suspended payments to headquarters for more than a fortnight in protest at plans for the future of the staff association. Officials held a series of crisis meetings which failed to resolve the dispute. Police message boards were filled with angry comments and some called for constables to split from the organisation. “Divide and conquer,” said one anonymous posting on the Police Oracle website. “If it carries on like this we may as well kiss goodbye to what little leverage we have with pay and conditions.”

The review was the first announcement by the  Federation’s new leader, Steve Williams, and is seen as a push for more central control.

“We remain open to dialogue and we hope there will be a resolution,” said Will Riches, chairman of the constables’ branch. “This isn’t about a split – this is about ensuring we have credibility with the Government, our members and the public we serve.”

Federation sources told The Independent that the latest row is a build-up of tensions between members who wanted more militant action to protect current working conditions and a new leadership which has embarked on a less confrontational approach to government changes.

The issue is set to provide a stormy backdrop to the body’s annual conference next month, which will be addressed by the Home Secretary Theresa May. She was heckled and jeered at the event last year.

“The members haven’t seen any leadership or willingness to fight on behalf of its members. There’s a reluctance to allow even more power to go to the centre,” said the source.

Mr Williams said the review was designed to ensure the association was “representative”. “We are a professional body and are seeking to ensure all voices are heard and all issues are dealt with for the benefit of all concerned.”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears