Police Federation chair John Apter calls for “common sense” in setting police priorities

John Apter: chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales

John Apter: chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales

Police Federation chair John Apter has called for more “common sense” in setting police priorities. Apter has stated that rank and file members feel frustrated at being tasked with investigating trivial rows on social media, for example, at the expense of attending burglaries and other serious crimes due to a lack of resources.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Apter observed: “As a police officer on the street, there is still that desperation to do the job they want to do and very often they can’t because their hands are so tied. Where we’re drawn into local disagreements, the argument over the remote control, the dispute in the playground and the row on Facebook it is frustrating. I certainly think police time can be better spent and it makes a mockery when we are so stretched. You can’t treat society like that and you can’t treat the police as political footballs. We need to have a sensible debate with politicians, with society with the public about exactly what they want their police to do.”

Apter added: “People join the police service to keep people safe and to lock up bad people, not to sort out petty squabbles over a remote control.”

Recently, South Yorkshire Police asked people to report insults on social media, even if they’re not considered to be a hate crime. The Federation has questioned the wisdom of this in light of current pressures on police resources.

Apter explained: “Burglary is one of the most intrusive and horrible crimes that a householder can go through. It makes you feel incredibly vulnerable, but people can sometimes wait days for a police response. Even if there’s little chance of catching the person(s) responsible, police officers know the value of spending a little bit of time with the victim, talking through their concerns and offering them some reassurance. That half an hour you spend with someone gives so much back to society. It’s about understanding the value of something over the cost, which is something the bean-counters don’t seem to grasp.”

“Rubbing salt in the wounds”

News that police officers in Scotland will receive a 6.5% pay rise “risks rubbing salt in the wounds” of officers in England and Wales. Officers north of the border below the rank of Assistant Chief Constable are receiving an immediate uplift in pay from the Scottish Government as part of a three-year pay deal. A mid-point constable will see their pay bolstered by £2,300 and will have earned an additional £6,000 over the next 31 months.

This contrasts with the 2% awarded to their police colleagues in England and Wales in July.

John Apter said: “While this is positive news for our colleagues in Scotland, it’s hard to stomach for their colleagues in England and Wales. For the second year running, the Government at Westminster chose to ignore the recommendations of the Police Remuneration Review Body, instead awarding a miserly increase that amounts to around £2.50 extra per week.”

Further, Apter opined: “It goes without saying that officers certainly don’t do the job for the money, but it is unacceptable to see colleagues struggling to make end meet at the tail end of each month. The Scottish Government has shown its support for policing and delivered more than warm words, which is what’s needed from our Government. Officers are sick of pleasantries from politicians which, in reality, they mean nothing. For a Government to show such contempt for those who put their lives on the line for the public is shameful.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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