Last time I wrote about the Police Federation of England & Wales I wrote directly to them, with them in mind and with care for their feelings. There have been numerous times since when I have wanted to write more but I have refrained because of the furore I caused last time and the hurt I seemed to have dealt some of the reps. This time, I am writing directly to the members.
I was recently added to a list kept by the twitter account of the PFEW, @PFEW_HQ. Its not unusual to be added to a list but this one caught my eye because it was called ‘Negative Mentions’. An odd name for a public list. An odd endeavour for a Comms Dept, to keep a public list, on line, of people who say negative things about them. @PW0559 noted that the list must surely be a very long one whilst in reality, @TimesCrime pointed out I was one of only four accounts on said list. A person I do not know and two eggs were my compadres in negativity. Suddenly I received a private message from PFEW. It was polite, although I was never told who was speaking to me. I never discuss Direct Messages with others. I believe anyone should be able to speak to me freely and with confidence. Anyway, I felt Id like to respond to the rather hollow salutation at the end of the message. I couldn’t because the account does not follow me. So back on the public TimeLine, I had to appeal to the mystery tweeter to follow me or give me permission to converse further publicly. I received another Direct Message from the mystery tweeter, suggesting I use an email address for my reply. Back to the TimeLine I had to go, where I explained to @PFEW_HQ that Twitter was a tool for conversation and replies via email rather negated the point of tweeting. Then, a hallelujah moment. The Police Federation of England and Wales finally – finally – followed me. I sent my response. No reply was forthcoming. Unsuprisingly.
The list got scrapped and a new list was made. ‘Regulars’. Not ‘regulars’ as in the old Policing vernacular, meaning fully paid Police Officers rather than Specials or volunteers or whatever other form of free bodies there might be today. Regular whats? Myself, the person I don’t know and the two eggs are now joined by none other that @ghostedme, @Peter_Kirkham, @bish1964, a generic police back slapping account, the deputy chair or West Midlands Federation then most confusingly of all, @roamingroyston and @SyreetaLund. The latter actually being the Editor for the Federation’s magazine. What draws this small group together? I have no clue. None at all. They have three more lists, do have a look. They are illuminating, in a dim, batteries are about to die kind of way. In recent days it has come to my notice that other ‘negative commentators’ have received private messages from an unknown person at @PFEW_HQ. No engagement in public, individuals dealt with in private. Not a very modern stance.
This very poor attempt at using Twitter tools without learning the basics served to draw my attention to Leatherhead, with their impending Conference. And I got thinking. Now, given that I am apparently a Negative commentater, that’s not the most tactical move. What that person managed to do was draw my attention to himself and his organisation so much so that I am going to take this opportunity (perhaps for the last time) to issue another salvo at the flanks of the Federation. However, this time, I am not speaking to the denizens of Leatherhead, I am speaking to the members. Every Constable, Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector. This is your representative organisation. Does it represent you? Are you happy with it? Have you had your say? Do you feel heard? Valued? “All feedback is valued”…or so I was told the other day.
Recently, Leatherhead was the subject of a TV programme. Even though it wasn’t exactly complimentary, it still didn’t show you the reality of the building. It didn’t show you the etched glass door through which access must be gained on the first floor, to the Constables own private area. It didn’t show the balcony with tables and chairs where the Constables can sit and look down upon their colleagues below. It didn’t show the contrast to this, with the shared facilities and staff of the Sergeants and Inspectors, in their much more modest office space. Its about time you all knew these things.
With an election for a new Chairman just around the corner, this type of information might be important. Except that you, as members, don’t actually have a vote. How is that fair? Do you believe you are best served, best represented by the highly undemocratic process your Federation is about to undertake? Do you not want a say for yourselves? Do you want to be heard? I think you do. And I think you deserve to be heard. So – is it not time that you made a lot of noise and demanded change? The would be leaders of your Federation will tell you that change is afoot, that if you just let them stick to the old ways for now, the Review will bring in the changes you want. That is not true. If you do not have a say, if you do not push for change and for your voices to be heard, the best case scenario is a long drawn out and painful death of your Federation. I believe YOU can make a difference. Conference is in two weeks time. Your voices will not be heard at that conference, but they should be. What can you do about that? You are capable, dynamic, intelligent men and women. Your JBBs need to hear you and if they wont support you, then you must make a noise that Leatherhead cannot ignore.
Almost a year ago to the this day I
talked to Steve Williams about the speech he was preparing to give at Conference. I told him he should walk onto the stage with his speech in his hand, then rip it up and throw it away in front of everyone. Then I told him he should talk directly to the people who were not in the Conference. To the members. I told him to have ready a variety of routes for you all to contact him and that he should tell you to email, call, write and tweet. I told him to promise you all that he would read every single comment and that he would represent you, the members, and your wishes. I talked to him about the possibility of his position being a poisoned chalice and suggested that if he thought he might crash and burn, perhaps he’d like to do it in style. Of course, Steve didn’t take my advice and he didn’t appeal to you, the membership in the style I had suggested.
Whoever follows Steve MUST speak for YOU. Not just the Constables. Not just the Sergeants and or Inspectors. All of you. An inclusive leader. So – over to you. What are YOU going to do about it?