The new Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales says he is “honoured and humbled” to have been elected to the position.
John Apter, formerly the Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, reacted to this morning’s announcement saying: “I am incredibly proud to be a police officer but what makes it special is the people I work with. Police officers are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. They are the bravest. They are the best.”
He continued: “Today I am honoured and humbled to be elected as their voice. It is an incredible privilege to be named Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales – the first ever to be elected by officers up and down the country.”
Mr Apter was selected ahead of Phill Matthews, PFEW’s Conduct and Performance lead, who had also challenged for the position.
Speaking after the election result Mr Apter set out his aims for his tenure saying: “For far too long police officers have been taken advantage of. Pay and conditions, ‘reform’ of the service, huge budget cuts, and outrageous slurs and media soundbites… The Government has been kicking us for years. There comes a point where we must bite back, that time has come.
And he vowed to take a tough stance when negotiating on behalf of his members saying: “Whilst we must have a relationship with the Home Office, chief officers and the College of Policing, I do not want to be their friend. I will hold them to account to make sure they act in my members best interests. That begins tomorrow when I start my role as National Chair.
“I have a long list of priorities. At the top of the list will always be pay and conditions. Following the contemptible and disgraceful actions of the Government this year over our pay award – and let’s be frank, over the past seven or eight years – we have some significant decisions to make. The disdain and contempt shown to police officers in England and Wales must end.”
He continued: “Officer safety is also key. I will be pushing Government to centrally fund Taser and I will also be putting my full support to getting better protection for police drivers. The legal vulnerability they face for doing what they are trained to do is unacceptable and must end.
“I also want to start the debate on Employment Rights for police officers. It’s important we have a grown up and balanced discussion about what this means – and is it something our members want?
“Other areas I want to focus on include Special Constables joining the Federation, the ongoing wellbeing of colleagues and reviewing the ‘free half hour for the Queen’. I will be making myself as visible as possible, both to members across England and Wales and to local Federations.
“I want to make sure the Police Federation of England and Wales gives local Federations whatever support they need to give the best service they can. Local Federations are the credibility of the organisation: they need more support and I will make sure they get it. I am also aware that the National Federation needs to bolster the confidence of our members. And I intend to be driving that from the centre with tangible actions and not just words.
“So, it will be a busy few months and years ahead. Every day is important, and I am determined to make a difference. We have been shouting about the consequence of cuts to policing for years and have been labelled scaremongers for doing so. We need to be more passionate, persuasive and proactive, and we must take our message to the public, who in the main support policing.
“We are dealing with a Government that has its head firmly buried in the sand when it comes to the impact of cuts to policing. Let’s make them sit up and listen. The hard work starts here. Working together we can achieve so much. For the public we serve, and the police officers we represent.
“Thank you again for having the faith in me to do the job for you,” Mr Apter concluded.