National chair says officers must work with politicians to get voices heard

National Federation chair John Apter says it is vital that officers continue to work with politicians as he and Home Secretary Priti Patel acknowledge the strengthening relationship between the Federation and the Government.

John’s comments come after Ms Patel praised the Police Federation during a Parliamentary debate on Monday (15 March) during the second reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The bill sets out plans to double the maximum sentence for those who assault emergency services workers, introduces better legal protections for police drivers following a campaign led by West Midlands Police Federation deputy secretary Tim Rogers, and gives Special Constables the right to become Federation members.

Opening the debate, the Home Secretary said: “We do ask our brave police officers to do the most difficult of jobs. They run towards danger to keep us all safe. That is why I’ve worked closely with the Police Federation in developing this bill.”

She continued: “I’d like to pay tribute to the chair of the Police Federation, John Apter, for his constructive way of working since I became Home Secretary, admirably fighting for his members every single day. He’s voiced his concerns to me directly and I have acted upon them.”

In response to the comments, John said it was a testament to the hard work that has been done to build constructive relations with the Government, which had been instrumental in the bill coming before Parliament.

“We’ve achieved a tremendous amount with this bill, through good relationships, effective lobbying and working with MPs across all parties. We have seen a change in tone about policing from the Government,” added John, who warned against “pulling up the drawbridge”, saying that would not achieve anything.

“Whether we like it or not we have to work with politicians and all others across policing to get our voice heard, and I’ll continue to do that.”

John explained that as national chair, he has been working hard to build relationships with the Government “because they were incredibly damaged”, adding: “The problem with a damaged relationship is they don’t achieve anything. 

“Whether it’s having a private conversation with the Home Secretary, explaining to her that an officer has been really badly injured and assaulted and giving her the background so that she knows the realities of policing first-hand, through to getting legislation over the line, it is important that we have that relationship.”

John did, however, explain that a constructive relationship does not always mean that he and the Home Secretary agree.

“When we disagree, as we have over the pay freeze, pensions and priority for the vaccine, I don’t sugar coat it, and I think the Home Secretary respects that,” he added.