Police Covenant: proposed legislation unveiled

Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe says proposals in a new criminal justice bill will make a real difference to members.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill being unveiled in Parliament today includes proposals for a Police Covenant which will set out measures to support officers, police staff and their families.

Now Steve is urging the Government to “honour the spirit” of the covenant by giving officers the coronavirus vaccine.

He said: “We welcome the bill and the proposals for a Police Covenant to recognise the unique role of our members. The covenant is something the Federation has campaigned for and will support and protect officers in their line of work.

“And I’d urge the Governments in Westminster and Cardiff to honour the spirit of the covenant before it comes into being by providing officers with the vaccine to ensure they’re protected from this potentially deadly virus as they go about their work.” 

The covenant will mean serving and former members of the police service are provided with continued health and wellbeing support, physical protection and support for their families and will create a duty for the Home Secretary to report annually on the work being undertaken.

Alongside the establishment of the covenant, the bill legislates to double the maximum sentences for those convicted of assaulting emergency workers in England and Wales to two years – something the Federation has been campaigning for.

The bill gives better legal protection to police officers setting out that their driving standards will be assessed against a ‘competent and careful peer’ with the same training, rather than with a member of the public.

It also allows Special Constables to formally join the Police Federation. The Federation has campaigned for this change and held regular discussions with the Home Office, Association of Special Constabulary Officers (ASCO), the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) over the issue.

Steve said: “We’ve been campaigning on a number of these issues and it’s pleasing to see the Government recognise the need for greater protection for officers. We’ll continue to work for our members and campaign on the issues that affect them and will make a difference in their roles.”

National Federation chair John Apter has welcomed the new bill.

“This bill contains a number of important changes we have been campaigning for over many years to give greater protection to police officers, and recognise the unpredictable, dangerous and demanding job they do,” he said.

“This is the first step to bring these changes into law; we must grab this opportunity and ensure the Bill brings about a positive, meaningful and tangible difference for our colleagues.”