Damning report on Police Federation: Personal attacks on Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May condemned in review set up after 'plebgate' affair

'We heard of a growing disillusion with the lack of professionalism of some representatives' says report

Nigel Morris
Monday 20 January 2014 14:39
Andrew Mitchell eventually received a begrudging apology following the 'Plebgate' affair
Andrew Mitchell eventually received a begrudging apology following the 'Plebgate' affair

Personal attacks by the Police Federation on political figures such as Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May are condemned in an independent review which called for sweeping change at all levels of the troubled organisation.

The review into the federation, which represents more than 120,000 constables, sergeants and inspectors, was set up following the "plebgate" affair which culminated in Mr Mitchell's resignation from the Government.

The report painted a damning picture of "petty politics and squabbling" within the organisation, divisions between its headquarters and regions and between the ranks it represents. It also raised questions over the £64.5m the federation holds in reserves and said the cash should be used to cut members' subscriptions.

The review was scathing about some federation representatives' tactics in defending officers' terms and conditions which have seen it target Home Secretaries including Ms May and Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

"We have also been given evidence of bad behaviour within, including poor treatment of staff at HQ and the targeting of representatives in social media, at conference and elsewhere simply because they hold a different point of view. If the Federation wants to be respected and listened to in the future, this has to stop," it added.

"The politics of personal attack and shouting has proved to be a wrong-headed response and more of the same would have resulted in an even less optimal outcome."

The review was commissioned by the federation and conducted by Sir David Normington, the former Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, on behalf of the RSA charity.

The report said: "We heard of a growing disillusion with the lack of professionalism of some representatives, with a tendency for the workload to fall on a few while others enjoyed the fruits of elected position and with the wish of some to play political games while ignoring the interests of their members."

It added: "There was widespread dismay, not least from some of the Federation's supporters, at the damage being done to the Federation and the wider police service by the actions of its local representatives in the Andrew Mitchell affair."

It made 36 recommendations, including the publication of annual accounts, the setting of a national standard for behaviour, guidance on expenses and the establishment of a database of members.

The federation's chairman, Steve Williams said: "This is an historic day for our organisation. The report makes uncomfortable reading and identifies that deep cultural change is needed. It shows that the organisation is currently failing to perform its role effectively and efficiently is ineffective and uninfluential, has lost the confidence of its members, and is in need of urgent reform.

"Its recommendations are far reaching and set out a roadmap of reform. There is no doubt that root and branch change is required. The Federation needs to embrace this challenge however difficult that may be. Its findings will be seen by some as controversial and that they undermine the fabric of our organisation. However, I have no doubt that if the Federation fails to deliver the change required, others will do it to us."