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Fed heralds rep elections as way to improve diversity

The Federation is using workplace rep elections as a way of improving its own diversity.

The start of Federation elections has come with a call from its leadership for more officers from minority groups to stand.

Senior figures are using the poll for rep places, which is held every three years, as a way to lobby minority members to reflect a Service that is changing due to the Uplift intake.

Federation Chair John Apter admitted the organisation had “much more to do”.

He told Police Oracle: “Being a Fed Rep is a privilege – there is nothing better than helping your colleagues; and that’s why I would encourage all Federated rank officers, from all backgrounds, to consider putting themselves forward during these Fed elections.”

Senior figures say changes are needed to help the Fed respond to both the Black Lives Matters movement and tackle concerns raised by HMI over the retention of BAME officers.

A critical issue has been the disparity in the number of BAME officers who end up facing disciplinary hearings.

One senior official said the low number BAME reps is a significant concern to the leadership because it needs “to be able to relate to the membership”.

“We can’t push for changes on diversity issues or support colleagues effectively if things stay as they are,” one told Police Oracle.

The Local and National triennial election period for the Police Federation of England and Wales started on 1 July 2021.

The elections begin with nominations for Workplace Representatives.

Each force has a Federation Branch Council made up of all the workplace reps for that force, apart from the Metropolitan Branch where - due to their large size - Council members are voted in from a pool of elected representatives. Branches then elect a Branch Board, including a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

Any member up to the rank of Chief Inspector is eligible to stand to be a Federation Representative.

Ahead of nominations opening, Fed Chair John Apter took part in an hour-long @WeCops discussion to promote the role of reps and the elections.

One Fed member said minority members haven’t stood until now because they felt it was unlikely they would win a post.

“Being a middle aged straight white male is the easiest way to get elected,” they posted.

There are self-organised groups who report into the Fed to ensure diversity issues are on the agenda but the leadership and many grassroots members say it has its limitations.

John Apter said: “We are there for all members, and through our Self-Organising groups we have been able to directly highlight the value of what we do and encourage more officers from diverse backgrounds to stand. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to date, but it’s a journey and there’s still much more left to do.”

PC Ian Ashton, Chair Police Federation LGB&T+ Group, said: “The self-organised groups are a start and can be of benefit to support the campaign to increase representation. We need to see protected seats for LGB&T+ and Disability also moving forward.”

Andy Berry, the Fed Chair for Devon and Cornwall said in the WeCops event: “I’m going to be controversial but I would like to be able to direct recruit a proportion of reps to ensure my council is representative. It’s so important that we reflect the officers in force.”

Vice Chair Che Donald responded that if the current round didn’t work, the option of proportional posts could be considered: “If the current process doesn't work, you have to start thinking outside the box.”

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