A hugely significant event took place last week at the Police Federation’s Annual Conference. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, pointed out a string of recent failings and warned the federation that unless it reformed, it would face legislation to make it change. She told the conference that tax payers’ money would no longer subsidise the national organisation and instead it would need to rely on the millions of pounds it has in reserves. She also announced that police officers would have to opt-in to membership rather than automatically becoming members, as happens now.
Not so long ago, previous Home Secretaries were in fear of the Police Federation. Support from the federation was essential for them and failure to receive this would be seismic. Yet all this has changed.
Last year I was appointed to the Home Office team as a Private Parliamentary Secretary and this has led to me working closely with Theresa May. She is, in my opinion, one of the best Home Secretaries we have ever had and was brave and correct to take on the federation in the way she did.
In the four years I have been the local MP and indeed before that, I have witnessed the excellent and commendable work of our local police officers. They genuinely care for the area and have been instrumental in reducing crime in Dartford. The Police Federation seems to have lost its way recently and interestingly the harshest criticism I have heard of the federation has come from local serving police officers who feel that the organisation has let them down too.
The men and women who police the streets of Dartford work hard to make our town a better place to live in. They are rightly respected for the job they carry out. It is only right therefore that they have a federation that is also able to command the same respect.