Federation History

The Police Federation was founded in 1919, ninety years after the Police Act 1829 brought the Metropolitan Police into being. In that period, policemen were denied the right to form any kind of association to protect their interests. Not surprisingly, the pay and conditions of Victorian officers were deplorable, even by the standards of those times. In 1890, for example, the top rate of pay of a Metropolitan Constable was one pound and thirteen shillings a week, compared with three pounds a week for a coal porter. Until 1890, the police had no statutory right to a pension, even though they were required to contribute to superannuation funds. In some forces no pension was paid to a retiring constable unless he was unfit for further employment, in which case he got a small gratuity.

Regents Canal Police 3

The Government and the police authorities did their utmost to ensure that police forces remained immune from the growing trades union movement, which was seen as a major threat to the establishment. The police were recruited mainly from the ranks of ex-soldiers and agricultural labourers. Discipline was harsh and only a minority of policemen served long enough to retire. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the formative years of the service, there was no pressure from within for policemen to have the right to combine. However, it was inevitable that they should become discontented, especially in London and the larger cities, where living costs were rising and the working class was becoming more prosperous.

In 1875, there was serious trouble in the Metropolitan Police. The Commissioner, Colonel Henderson, was shocked to receive a petition, signed by 600 sergeants and constables, asking for a pay increase. They said that the cost of living in London was so high that "we are unable to keep up that state of respectability which is required by the rules and regulations of the service." Petitions from other divisions soon followed.

Henderson eventually announced that he did not feel justified in recommending a pay increase to the Home Secretary. A group of officers, acting in secret, organised a meeting and over 3,000 constables turned up. They drew up a resolution calling for a pay increase and the abolition of the split shift system that required officers to spread their tours of duty over a twelve hour period. The Commissioner had to announce that he would forward the pay demands to the Home Secretary. By this time, a representative committee had been elected and when it announced that they would continue "the agitation" until the demands were conceded, the Commissioner instructed senior officers to act against known malcontents.

Soon afterwards, pay was increased, but the secretary of the committee, PC Goodchild, was dismissed for refusing to be transferred to an outlying station. He attempted to organise a strike, and in some inner London stations the night shift refused to go on duty. Four officers were charged with the criminal offence of withdrawing themselves from duty without due notice and they were sentenced to brief terms of imprisonment. A hundred constables were dismissed but subsequently reinstated.

London 1891

In 1890, there was more trouble in the Metropolitan Police when constables and sergeants realised that the new Pensions Bill would seriously reduce their expectations. It had been understood that, although there was no automatic right to a pension, officers could expect to retire after 25 years on a pension of three-fifths of their pay, and after twenty eight years they would receive two thirds, although the normal retirement age was 60. The Bill, which would apply to every police force, provided only for a pension of three fifths of pay. The Commissioner, James Munro, sympathised with the force over the pensions issue, and also backed the growing demand for a long overdue pay increase. He found himself at odds with the Home Secretary, and when the Government refused to amend the Pensions Bill he gave notice of retirement. While he was serving out his notice, discontent in the force spread rapidly. Munro allowed the men to hold meetings to discuss the pay and pension issues but his successor, Sir Edward Bradford, was a military martinet who immediately announced a ban on all meetings. This led to trouble outside Bow Street police station, when hundreds of off duty constables turned up for a meeting which had been authorised by Munro, but was now prohibited. They were refused access to the station and held the meeting in the nearby Police Institute. This meeting resolved that they would call a strike if any man was victimised for his attendance.

Further unofficial meetings at various stations in inner London resulted in mass suspensions when men refused to go on duty. The organisers of the protest sent a telegram to the Home Secretary, threatening to strike unless he conceded a pay increase. When the night shift at Bow Street refused duty, a mob began rioting in the area, and the Life Guards were called out to clear the streets. This show of force by the authorities, accompanied by the summary dismissal of 39 constables, showed that the new Commissioner was formally in control and the unrest petered out very quickly. Some months later, the Government did increase police pay in the Metropolitan.

These brief outbreaks of militancy in London are the only recorded examples of unrest in the police during the nineteenth century. They gave proof of the determination of the authorities not to allow any form of representation. It was left to prominent people who sympathised with the ordinary policeman to do what they could to make his lot a happier one. Prominent among these was Miss Catherine Gurney, who founded the police convalescent homes and orphanages, and Mr John Kempster, who founded the Police Review in 1892. Kempster used the magazine as a forum for his lengthy campaigns to secure a policeman's right to one day off each week, which was conceded in 1910, and to persuade police authorities to appoint professional policemen as chief constables, rather than retired military gentlemen. Kempster's circle of influential people included many MPs and Parliament began to take an interest in the welfare of the police.

police ballot paper



During the First World War, the pay and conditions of the Metropolitan Police deteriorated rapidly. Constables found it difficult to live on their pay, which lagged behind all industrial workers. The Government offered temporary bonuses which fell short of the spiralling cost of living.

A small number of determined officers turned to the Police Union and ousted Syme from his post as Secretary during one of his spells in gaol. The new leadership was still obliged to meet in secret and was constantly harassed by Scotland Yard. Union meetings were raided by the Special Branch and any policeman they found was immediately dismissed and drafted into the Army. The leaders contacted trade union leaders and Labour MPs who began to press for the right of the police to have a union. The union's cause was greatly helped by the Government, which repeatedly failed to take action to improve police conditions. In spite of the efforts of the authorities, the union was rapidly increasing its support inside the force.

On the 28th August 1918, the Union delivered an ultimatum to the Commissioner, Sir Edward Henry. This demanded three things; an immediate increase in pay; the official recognition of the union, and; the reinstatement of a constable who had been dismissed for his union activities. Unless these claims were conceded by midnight on the following day, the union would withdraw its own rules against striking.

The Commissioner and the Home Secretary were away on holiday. The deputy Commissioner and senior Home Office officials were assured by the divisional superintendents that the union was making an empty threat. They said its membership was small and the vast majority of officers would not strike. The authorities decided to do nothing about the ultimatum, except to urge that the union secretary, who had signed it, should be prosecuted under wartime legislation.

On the night of the 29th August, it began to be seen that large numbers of constables and sergeants were on strike, and by the following morning Scotland Yard realised that almost every man who was due to go on duty had failed to do so. The strike was virtually solid and the Government was faced with the threat of anarchy on the streets of the capital while a world war was raging. The cabinet was hurriedly convened and, over the objections of the Commissioner, the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, let it be known that he would receive a "deputation of policemen" on the morning of the 31st July. He was careful not to say that he would meet the Police Union, which was an illegal body, although he realised that the deputation would consist of its leaders.

police union

The meeting in the Cabinet room at 10 Downing Street was a brief affair. The government conceded the pay claim in full. It agreed to reinstate the sacked union official. As to recognition, Lloyd George offered a compromise. He said a union could not be recognised in wartime, but the ban on membership would be lifted so long as the union did not interfere with police discipline. In the meantime, he proposed that there should be a representative committee, elected by the men, to bring any matter affecting their welfare to the Commissioner's notice.

The union leaders thought that Lloyd George had promised to recognise the union once the war was over. He had done no such thing, and immediately after the meeting, he brought in General Sir Nevil Macready to replace Sir Edward Henry, telling Macready that his task was to destroy the union and restore the discipline of the force.

To no one's surprise, the representative committee elected by the force consisted entirely of known Union activists, who promptly began to make demands that Macready found unacceptable. Within a few weeks, he disbanded the committee and ordered fresh elections, this time on the basis of one "representative board" for each rank; constables, sergeants and inspectors.

The union, which was now affiliated to the Labour Party and the TUC, held large rallies in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square, to protest against Macready's "tyrannical rule". In June, the Union announced that in a\ nationwide ballot, its members had voted by ten to one in favour of another police strike, unless more pay and union recognition were conceded.

The Government announced that a Committee of Inquiry under Lord Desborough would examine the police service, and that a substantial pay award would be made shortly. It also announced that the police would be allowed an internal representative body, but the Police Union would never be recognised and police who belonged to it would have to resign their membership. The Desborough Report appeared in early July. It established the Police Federation and awarded the entire police service a substantial increase in pay. It also recommended that the Home Secretary should become responsible to Parliament for the entire police service, not just the Metropolitan, and that police conditions of service should be standardised throughout the country. All these proposals were accepted by the Government and the Police Act of 1919 was passed into law within three weeks.

The union decided to call a national strike for the 1st August, to oppose the Police Act and demand the recognition of the Police Union. It was doomed to fail, as even a majority of the Union executive declined to support it. In London, only a thousand officers went on strike. About 400 officers in Birmingham struck. On Merseyside, another thousand went on strike after they had been told by local union officials that the entire Metropolitan Police had refused duty. There was widespread rioting and looting on Merseyside, ended after three days by the arrival of a battleship and two destroyers sent to Liverpool to restore order. With the exception of some Liverpool officers who returned to work during the strike under an amnesty, all the officers who took part in the 1919 strike were dismissed.

The Police Union was dead, the Police Federation had arrived.



The Police Act establishes the Police Federation as the sole representative body for the ranks of constable to chief inspector. Policemen who still belong to the Police Union are given one month to resign from it, or be dismissed. Separate branch boards for constables, sergeants, and the inspector ranks are elected in every force. The first Annual Conference takes place in November, for the purpose of electing the central committees. The "Desborough" pay scales are applied to all forces.

The Police Council, comprising representatives of the Home Office, the police authorities, the chief officers, superintendents and the Police Federation, draws up the first Police Regulations, setting out standard conditions of service. It is an advisory body. The nine Federation representatives are consistently out- voted on all issues affecting pay and conditions.

An economic crisis brings the first threat to the new-found prosperity of the police. The Geddes Committee on public expenditure calls for cuts in the pay of the provincial police and an overall reduction of one-eighth in overall police spending. The Police Council agrees on a compromise by which "temporary" deductions of five per cent of pay, spread over two years, and reductions in rent allowances are imposed. There is a bitter reaction from the members and a loss of confidence in the Police Federation.

After pressure from the local authorities, the Government recalls the Desborough Committee to reconsider its pay scales. The councils argue that wages are falling and the police are greatly overpaid. Desborough reports that there is no reason to alter police pay, but this good news is countered by the retention of the "temporary" pay deductions beyond the two year period.

The pay cuts are abolished, but the police are required to double their pensions contributions to 5 per cent of their pay.

The Police Appeals Act gives officers a right to appeal to the Home Secretary against serious disciplinary punishments.

Joint Central Committee cannot find a secretary. No member of the Committee will take the post because no facilities have been provided. The Home Secretary rejects the JCC's request for the secretary to be relieved of all police duties. The Home Office makes a payment of £300 a year, which has to cover all the Federation's expenses.

All components of the Police Council support a plan to establish a Police College to give advanced training to the higher ranks, but it is shelved because of another economic crisis.

Constable Albert Goodsall (Metropolitan) becomes the first full time secretary of the JCC. He is also the Secretary of the Metropolitan Constables Board and of the Metropolitan Joint Executive Committee. The economic crisis brings down the minority Labour Government and Ramsay MacDonald forms a national government. The May Committee on National Expenditure calls for cuts in the pay of all public servants. It says police pay should be reduced by twelve and a half per cent, phased over two years. The Government imposes "temporary" deductions of ten per cent in the pay of serving officers. The Police Federation holds mass meetings to protest against the cuts.

The Government introduces a reduced pay scale for new constables (Scale "B") Lord Trenchard, the Metropolitan Commissioner persuades the Home Secretary to ban all further Open Meetings of the Police Federation, on the grounds that they are attacks on the Government's policies.

Trenchard's Annual Report attacks the Metropolitan Federation as "trouble makers". The Report outlines Trenchard's scheme for a Metropolitan Police College to provided accelerated promotion for selected constables and direct entrants. He complains that there are far too many senior constables in the force, whom he regards as "dead wood". He announces that constables will be recruited on a 10 year engagement, which will not be renewable. Such constables will not be eligible for promotion. These changes are embodied in the Metropolitan Police Act, which also removes Metropolitan chief inspectors from the Federation.

The ten per cent pay cut is reduced by half and abolished altogether the following year, but Scale B is retained for post-1931 recruits.

On the outbreak of war, thousands of police officers who have served in the armed forces are recalled to The Colours. Police officers are not allowed to retire on pension. Thousands of special constables and auxiliaries are recruited. Policing becomes a "reserved occupation" and officers are not allowed to volunteer for military service.

The police get their first pay increase since Desborough. It consists of a "supplementary" payment of five shillings a week, to take account of wartime inflation, and a "war duty allowance" of three shillings a week in lieu of overtime payments, payable only to men getting less than £5 a week. All officers are working many additional hours because of air raids, and the absence of compensation is a source of discontent.

Lord Snell's Committee on police pensions agrees that widows' pensions should be increased, provided that officers contribute part of the cost. The Federation is against increased pensions contributions. The JCC chairman, George Strangeways, resigns after being censured by the Committee for supporting a rise in contributions at the Police Council. Because of the Federation's stance, the widows' pensions are not increased.

After eleven years, the ban on Federation Open Meetings is rescinded

Angered by the Federation's continued complaints about the worsening conditions of its members, Morrison summons the entire JCC to the Home Office where he lectures them on their responsibilities. He says that it is their duty to accept his decisions and explain them to their members. Albert Goodsall tells Morrison that the Federation will continue to press for improvements in pay and conditions.

Scale "B" pay is abolished. With the war over, the Federation presses for a substantial pay increase. The service is facing serious manpower shortages, due to police pay falling behind outside occupations. Wastage outstrips recruitment. The Government promises that pay will be considered by an independent inquiry, but not yet.

The Police College, which is fully supported by the Police Federation, is established. Its purpose is to provide higher training for the ranks of sergeant to superintendent. Ten years later, it moves to Bramshill. Trenchard's Hendon College, closed since 1938, is not revived.

The long anticipated Oaksey Committee's report on police pay and conditions of service is a huge disappointment to the service. Its pay recommendations will prove insufficient to attract and retain recruits, and there is anger because, in order to receive the increase, the police must accept that their pensions will be "averaged" over the final three years of their service. Oaksey recommends a London Allowance of £10 a year.

Part Two of the Oaksey Report deals with representative organisations and negotiating machinery. Oaksey says that the Federation should be permitted to raise funds by voluntary contributions from its members. He says that either the Federation agrees to represent women police, or they should have their own organisation. The Report calls for new negotiating machinery, with access to arbitration.  1951
For the first time, a pay claim goes to arbitration. Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve's award is higher than the offer made by the Home Office and local authorities, and is intended to stimulate recruitment.

The Police Council's proposed constitution for a new negotiating body is published. The Police Council for Great Britain will cover Scotland as well as England and Wales. There will be a Police Arbitration Tribunal but the Home Secretary will have the right to veto its award. At its first meeting, the new Police Council agrees to increase police pay by eight per cent. London Allowance is increased to £20.

The Federation's Voluntary Funds begin. The subscription is threepence a week. The JCC appoints James Callaghan mp as its first consultant and adviser. Besides being an MP, Callaghan is a very experienced public service negotiator. At Police Council meetings, he becomes the staff side's chief negotiator.

The Police Arbitration Tribunal makes its first pay award. It says that because of the delays in dealing with the claim, it would have backdated the award but did not have the power to make a retrospective award. When the Home Office declines to back date the award, James Callaghan organises a successful Parliamentary lobby and the Home Secretary agrees to make the award retrospective. The JCC declines the request of the Metropolitan Branch Boards to have their claim for a London Rate of Pay placed on the Police Council's agenda, which leads to a long and bitter dispute inside the Federation. The working week is reduced from 48 to 44 hours, but most forces cannot implement it and pay overtime instead.

The Police Council agrees on changes to rent allowance which greatly improve the position of owner occupiers. The first Federation journal - The Newsletter - starts publication.

The Police Council agrees that officers can commute up to a quarter of their pensions in exchange for a lump sum. The scheme is confined to officers retiring after thirty years' service, or on an ill-health pension.

Concern about police conduct leads to the appointment of a Royal Commission. Pressure from the Police Federation persuades the Government to let the Commission examine "the broad principles governing the pay of the Constable". The Police Federation Act restores Metropolitan Chief Inspectors to the Federation and makes police women full members.

The interim report of the Royal Commission awards pay increases of over 30 per cent to constables. Similar increases are negotiated for the other ranks.

The Second Report of the Royal Commission rejects a national police force but calls for more force mergers. It says that chief officers should be subject to more effective supervision. Watch committees should lose their powers of discipline and promotion. Police authorities should be made liable for the wrongful acts of police officers. Every complaint from a member of the public should be recorded and investigated. The Home Secretary should be responsible for all police efficiency, not just in the Metropolitan Police. Also this year, the first "Special Course" for constables with the potential to reach chief inspector rank early in their careers, takes place at the Police College.

The working week is further reduced to 42 hours, although the Met and some city forces are still working 48 hours. A mass Federation lobby of Parliament takes place to protest against the Government's proposal to limit a new lump-sum payment to dependants of officers' killed on duty, to deaths arising from criminal acts only. In the House of Commons, the Home Secretary is forced to concede.

The Police Act 1964 embodies most of the proposals of the Royal Commission and sets the pattern of police organisation and control for the rest of the century. The Government introduced the first scheme to compensate victims of crime from public funds. Aided by Federation lawyers, injured police begin to receive substantial compensation for their injuries. Following a free vote in Parliament, capital punishment is abolished. The Federation warns that it will lead to a big increase in murders committed in the course of crime. Within two years, six police officers are murdered, against the 20th century average of less than one a year.

The Federation shocks the authorities with a claim for a large pay increase. Claiming that police manpower is again in crisis, the Federation demands £3 a week for provincial forces and £5 for forces where under manning is "endemic". This proposal leads to an angry debate at the 1965 Conference. The Police Arbitration Tribunal rejects the Federation claim, and increases London Allowance from £20 to £50 with additional temporary allowances in London to ease the manpower problem. Other forces qualify for new under manning allowances.

In response to Federation criticisms of bad management, and lack of modern equipment, Home Secretary Roy Jenkins establishes an inquiry by the Police Advisory Board into manpower, equipment and efficiency. This is the first time that the Federation has been treated as an equal party in matters affecting police efficiency. The murder of three Metropolitan officers in one incident leads the Federation to call for the restoration of capital punishment for the killing of police officers. The Government introduces statutory regulation of pay and prices, together with a six-months pay freeze for all employees. After direct representations by the Federation, the Government makes a single exception to allow the police to negotiate a back-dated pay increase, outside the regulations. Also in 1966, Jenkins announces compulsory force mergers to reduce the number of forces from 126 to 49. The Federation supports the plan.

The Federation negotiates a pay rise above the statutory "norm". It includes age-pointing to attract mature recruits. The Report of the Police Advisory Board's Inquiry into manpower, equipment and efficiency makes proposals to improve working conditions, and stresses that police should not be employed on tasks that do not require their powers or expertise; civilians should be brought in instead. The report says that the powers and duties of traffic wardens should be extended, with more fixed penalties. It proposes a larger role for special constables. It endorses the use of personal radios and calls for 3,000 more small cars for beat duties, and supports new operating systems, such as unit beat policing. It adds that military style duty parades should be replaced by briefing sessions. The working party agrees with the Federation that officers should no longer wear numerals on uniforms (subsequently vetoed by Home Secretary James Callaghan). Also in 1967, the Federation supports the introduction of a graduate entry scheme.

Because of economic problems, Callaghan limits the growth in police numbers to 1,700, although the service is 17,000 below establishments. He vetoes an arbitration award of under manning allowances in Liverpool and Birmingham. But Callaghan accepts the Federation's view that there is no need to create a disciplinary offence of racial discrimination. POLICE magazine begins publication in September.

The Federation buys a headquarters building in Surbiton, Surrey. The Police Council agrees a new system of rent allowances which relates the maximum limit in each force to the rental value of a modern police authority owned house. The Federation is invited to assist a Government Inquiry into the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which is brought within the ambit of the Police Council. The Police Federation's constitution is altered to provide for elections to central committees by regions. Once again, the service faces a manpower crisis. This results in the largest pay award ever negotiated by the Police Council. A report by the Police Advisory Board calls for staff appraisal to be introduced in the Service.

The Equal Pay Act 1970 gives equal pay to women police officers.

The Pensions (Increase) Act 1971 gives public service pensioners, including police, a guarantee that their pensions will be index-linked to take account of inflation. The Report of a Police Training Council working party, which includes Federation members, calls for a national scheme to train police in race relations. The Government announces plans to create six metropolitan local authorities, each with its own police force. The Federation counters with a proposal for regional police administrations, with local forces retaining their separate identities. The Metropolitan Police Federation calls on the national body to support its claim for a London Rate of Pay. This is strongly opposed by provincial forces.

The pensions of "new" police widows are increased from one-third to one-half of the husband's pension. There are similar increases for dependant children, and the qualifying period is reduced from ten years to five. The requirement to "average" pensions over the last three years of service, introduced in 1949, is abolished. Commutation rights are extended to officers retiring with less than 25 years' service. Pensions contributions are raised to seven per cent.

The Joint Central Committee agrees to support a substantial increase in London Allowance. The public service London Weighting system is extended to the two London forces. Constables and sergeants gain the right to opt for payment for overtime. After an arbitration hearing, this is extended to the inspector ranks.

The Conservative Government announces plans to introduce an independent element into the complaints procedures, by way of ex-post facto reviews of decisions taken by disciplinary authorities. The Federation argues this would expose officers to double jeopardy. The six provincial metropolitan police forces are established. Further force mergers take place and the number of separate forces is reduced to 43. A new Labour Government rejects the previous administration's proposals on complaints in favour of a statutory Police Complaints Board to oversee all investigations of complaints, and decide whether charges should be brought. The scheme is supported by the Federation. Detective duty allowances are scrapped and replaced by paid overtime.

London Allowance becomes pensionable, ending a long running dispute within the Federation. The Federation negotiates a 25 per cent pay rise after a Police Council working party's report accepts that workloads have risen and that the manpower situation is serious, but the award is made against an increase in inflation of 22 per cent in twelve months. The Government imposes a ceiling on future pay rises of £6 a week.

The police are refused a rise of £6 a week under the Government's pay policy, because their 1975 award took effect after the restrictions were imposed. The Federation walks out of the Police Council and demands direct negotiations with the Government. Branch boards hold ballots as to whether the police should have the right to strike. Home Secretary Merlyn Rees imposes a lower pay rise than the Federation demands and is treated to the "angry silence" when he attends the Federation Conference, which carries a motion demanding the right to strike. The Federation launches a publicity campaign with the slogan "Police pay is a crime". Policemen's wives hold a rally in Trafalgar Square.

The Government, worried about the huge anger in the service, concedes an independent inquiry. Lord Justice Edmund Davies is asked to examine police pay and whether the police should be allowed to affiliate to the TUC or have the right to strike.

Edmund Davies reports on police pay. He awards constables increases of from 30 to 45 per cent. The Government accepts the report, subject to the increases being phased over two years. Edmund Davies rejects affiliation to the TUC and the right to strike. He stresses that the absence of these rights makes it imperative that the police are treated fairly. The Police Council is replaced by the Police Negotiating Board.

The Police Federation runs a major advertising campaign just before the General Election, drawing attention to rising crime and calling for changes in the law. This brings accusations that the Federation is involving the police in politics. Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government takes office, and immediately implements the Edmund Davies pay award in full. In a free vote, Parliament once again rejects the restoration of capital punishment.

Riots in Bristol and Brixton, reflecting tensions between the police and black youths, lead the Federation to demand "riot gear", after officers are injured by petrol bombs and missiles. A High Court case, Starbuck v Goodson, brought by the Federation leads to annual duty rosters and compensation for cancelled rest days at short notice.

Following a second major riot in Brixton, Lord Justice Scarman conducts an inquiry. His report puts most of the blame for widespread rioting in inner cities on "insensitive policing". The service sets up Police Support Units and provides riot gear and public order training. The Police Federation calls for wholly independent investigation and adjudication of complaints.

The police service comes under increasing criticism from the Labour Party and pressure groups over alleged racism and heavy handed policing. Police authorities oppose the issue of "rubber bullets" to forces. After three officers are murdered, the Federation again demands the restoration of capital punishment. 250,000 people signify support in messages to MPs. Parliament rejects the demand, and shortly afterwards three more officers are killed. The Federation is angered when the Government insists on increasing pension contributions from seven to eleven per cent ( eight per cent for women). This follows a recommendation of the Government Actuary.

The Federation supports the original Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, which implements the proposals of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice. It extends "stop and search" powers to police outside London and simplifies powers of arrest. It also strictly defines the limits of police powers when dealing with suspects and extends the rights of persons in custody. Custody officers become responsible for police custody suites. The Bill has to be dropped because of the General Election. Home Office circular 114/83 imposes severe restrictions on police expenditure, mainly affecting recruitment.

The second Police and Criminal Evidence Bill is published. The Federation says that it has been altered so much, following protests by lawyers and pressure groups, that it has shifted the balance in favour of criminals. The Federation complains that the Bill creates a massive bureaucracy of paperwork for arresting officers. A Federation sponsored amendment that would have brought in an independent complaints system, is rejected in Parliament. The Police Complaints Board is replaced by the Police Complaints Authority, with increased powers over investigations. The Federation does succeed with an amendment giving police officers the right to legal representation in discipline cases. In the House of Lords, Lord Scarman succeeds with an amendment to make racial discrimination by a police officer a disciplinary offence. The report of the working party on probationer training calls for radical changes and improvements. The official side of the Police Negotiating Board calls for a review of the Edmund Davies pay arrangements, which it says are over generous. The year-long miners' strike begins with mass picketing of working pits. Police are drafted into northern coalfields within hours. The Federation protests about poor living conditions for seconded officers. Clashes between police and pickets further worsen relations between the police and the Labour movement.

The murder of PC Keith Blakelock during a riot at the Broadwater Farm Estate in north London shocks the nation. The Federation complains about incompetent handling of the riot by senior officers. The Federation fights off an attempt by the official side to reduce levels of rent allowance. The arbitration tribunal finds for the staff side, but the Home Secretary warns that he may seek to limit the cost of the allowance in future. The Federation says that in doing so he would be exceeding his powers. The Home Secretary rejects agreements to increase the allowance in three forces. The Federation takes him to court and wins. The Prosecution of Offences Act removes the prosecution function from police officers and creates the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, vetoes a Police Negotiating Board agreement to grant an increased pension to a small group of very elderly police widows who receive only a minimal pension and do not qualify for a state pension. He ignores protests from the Federation and MPs. Also this year, he is forced to back down from a proposal to exclude police officers from the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme. The Police Complaints Authority calls for the dismissal of "sub-standard" police officers by administrative process. The Federation opposes this, saying it would give rise to injustices.

The conference of women Federation representatives calls for child witnesses in sex cases to be able to give evidence via video links. The government rejects this, but after a Federation campaign, the law is changed. The Federation draws attention to the growing problems of occupational stress among police officers. A working party report calls for an occupational health unit in the Home Office, which is agreed to. Following the "Hungerford Massacre" of 14 people by a gunman, the Federation presses for tighter controls on firearms. The possession of automatic and semi-automatic weapons is banned. The Federation is concerned about the greatly increased use of knives in violent crimes, but the Government refuses to give the police the power to search suspects at the scene of a stabbing.

The official side presents the staff side with a long list of proposals to reduce police pay and allowances. The Police Arbitration Tribunal recommends that the system of rent allowances should be replaced by a housing allowance. It would be less than rent allowance and subject to tax, but part would be pensionable. Occupants of police housing would have to pay rents and would draw housing allowance. The Home Secretary announces he will veto parts of the arbitration award, so as to reduce its value. The issue is referred back to the Arbitration Tribunal, which refuses to alter its award. David Waddington, Hurd's successor, vetoes the award in the way Hurd had intended. An Opposition motion of censure in the House of Commons is defeated.

Following the Hillsborough disaster, the Government appoints Lord Justice Taylor to conduct a public inquiry. The Federation's evidence calls for all-seater grounds in which rival supporters must be segregated, and that admission to matches should be confined to those belonging to club membership schemes. It adds that alcohol should be banned from football stadia. The Taylor report embodies most of these points.

The three police staff associations, ACPO, the Superintendents, and the Federation, come together to conduct the Operational Policing Review. This produces a comprehensive report on the problems facing the service and made proposals about what needed to be done. The Home Office virtually dismisses the report. Following revelations of racial and sexual discrimination and harassment within the service, the Federation makes a formal commitment to the elimination of racist, sexist or homophobic behaviour in the Service. The Federation's constitution is changed to provide for women to be represented on all committees and branch boards of the Federation. Pilot schemes for job sharing and part time working are introduced in several forces.

The Federation launches its Policing Agenda ahead of an upcoming general election, calling for law and order to be given top priority by all parties, and demands a Royal Commission on policing. It fails to have the desired impact on the election debate. The joint submission of the police staff associations to the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure calls for major changes in trial procedures and the rules of evidence.

Kenneth Clarke becomes Home Secretary and immediately appoints the Sheehy Committee to inquire into police responsibilities and rewards. The Federation, whilst fearing that the Inquiry will undermine police conditions of service, prepares a lengthy submission defending current pay and rewards arrangements. It says the service has too many levels of management and calls for current chief inspectors to be made superintendents, with the rank being abolished. The Sheehy Committee has one brief meeting with the Federation before publishing its report in the following year.

Kenneth Clarke leaves the Home Office and is replaced by Michael Howard. The Sheehy Report is published on 31st July. The Federation immediately rejects it in total. The report calls for a cut in the starting pay of constables of £2,000 and says housing allowance should be abolished for new entrants. All new recruits would start on fixed term appointments for ten years, renewable only at the discretion of the chief officer, up to the age of sixty, which would become the normal age of retirement. These terms would also apply to serving officers on promotion. The incremental scales and uniform pay within ranks would be ended and replaced by a pay matrix which would evaluate roles, responsibilities and performance. Sheehy calls for a reduction of 5,000 constables. The Police Regulations should be scrapped, and conditions of service left to local discretion. It should be made easier to dismiss corrupt or poorly performing officers. The Federation begins an immediate campaign - Say no to Sheehy. Over 20,000 members attend a rally at Wembley. In October, Howard informs Parliament that he has rejected substantial parts of the Sheehy Report. He announces that housing allowance will be abolished for new entrants, and will no longer be uprated for serving officers. There will be limits on sickness pay. The disciplinary procedures will be altered, and there will be a means of discharging unsatisfactory officers. The Police Negotiating Board is told by Howard to make proposals on pay that will produce further substantial savings. There will be a review, conducted by the Treasury and the Home Office of the police pensions scheme. A White Paper on police reform proposes that existing police authorities should be replaced by new bodies, headed by a paid Chairman appointed by the Home Secretary, who would also appoint five of the 16 members on each authority. These authorities would set local priorities for policing. It says that crime should be the major priority of policing, and that "non-crime" activities, such as traffic, should be scaled down. There will no longer be authorised establishments for forces and chief officers would become responsible for force budgets. The Federation says it is opposed to the proposals, which will weaken local control. The Home Secretary puts forward proposals for radical changes to discipline procedures, including abolishing an accused officer's right to silence and legal representation. The double jeopardy rule will be abolished and in some cases, there will be summary dismissals. The criminal standard of proof will no longer apply. Appeals tribunals would no longer include a retired staff association representative.

The Police Negotiating Board reaches agreement on pay and conditions, within the limits set by the Home Secretary. It says that an element of performance related pay will be introduced when a satisfactory staff appraisal scheme is in place. The staff side makes concessions on re-rostering and overtime. Subsequently, a "professional" salary is negotiated for inspectors. The Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill embodies the White Paper's proposals on police reform, but the Government is forced to make concessions during the Parliamentary stages by the fierce opposition of the House of Lords, led by several former Home Secretaries. The Federation mounts a major campaign against the Bill, in alliance with peers and other interested bodies. It succeeds in retaining the right to legal representation at discipline hearings, but most of the proposals on discipline are included in the Act. A Lords amendment retains the rank of chief inspector.

The House of Lords, in a case brought by the Federation, rules that Michael Howard acted illegally in introducing a new, and much worsened, Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme without reference to Parliament, but a new Bill that introduces a "tariff" based scheme is passed. A Police Federation membership survey shows that 80 per cent of officers are opposed to the routine arming of the police. The Government backs the Federation's call for a personal issue of body armour to all operational officers but refuses to provide additional money for it. The Federation demands a national register of child abusers. Changes to PACE which give civilian custody staffs powers to search prisoners are condemned by the Federation, but become law. Prime Minister John Major promises there will be "5000 more Bobbies on the beat by 1999" (1999 police numbers are down on 1995). As crime figures go down, at the party conferences the Police Federation launches a campaign for extra investment in policing - "Invest in Success". Our 9 point Policing Agenda calls for major changes in the criminal justice system and improved compensation for victims. In conjunction with The Sun the Federation launches the annual Police Bravery Awards.

Following the murders of 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane, the Federation demands a total ban on handguns. Following the Cullen report on the tragedy, Michael Howard announces that handguns will be banned, except for sporting purposes. The Police Arbitration Tribunal rejects a claim for an increase in probationers' pay, but puts them on the higher increment after completion of initial training.

At the General Election, the Federation issues "Five challenges", covering crime; police numbers and powers; juvenile crime; victims care, and; criminal justice. The new Labour Government is the first since 1979. It brings in a total ban on handguns. Jack Straw, the new Home Secretary introduces new Discipline Regulations that go beyond those agreed between the Police Advisory Board and Michael Howard. The official side submits proposals to change conditions of service, including a wide range of allowances, overtime and rest day working. The Federation introduces a new training package on equal opportunities - "Let's be fair".

The Federation proposes radical changes to police training. "Project Forward" calls for a lifetime training regime available to every officer, through distance learning and major investment in all forms of training. The Police Negotiating Board reaches agreement on conditions governing part-time working and job sharing. The Government publishes a consultation document produced by the review of police pensions. It proposes that, for new entrants, maximum benefits be paid after 35 years; changes to accrual rates; reduced commutation payments; reduced contributions to take account of lower pensions. The staff side responds that the scheme as proposed is unacceptable.

The Macpherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence says that the police suffer from "institutional racism". The Federation responds with an internal campaign, "Fighting for fairness", that challenges all forms of racism and discrimination within the service. After two years in office, the Government provides resources aimed at recruiting an additional 5,000 police officers over three years, but there is confusion over the figures. The Government proposes a scheme for neighbourhood wardens, which the Federation opposes. The Federation submits claims for substantial increases to London Weighting and London Allowance. 2000 The Government's promise on extra officers is hardened into a firm commitment to recruit 9,000 extra constables by 2003. The Police Federation withdraws from closed discussions on the Government's plans for police reform when it appears that the existing negotiating and consultation machinery is being by-passed. The Police Arbitration Tribunal rules on London Pay. It upholds the proposals of the Official side, increasing the pay and allowances of post 1994 entrants in London, giving them a £6,000 a year lead over provincial officers. The staff side calls for regional allowances, based on housing and other costs, for all officers not in receipt of housing allowance. The official side proposes differential allowances for forces in the South East. The issue goes to Arbitration, where the Tribunal rules in favour of the official side. The Federation returns to the police reform talks.

David Blunkett becomes Home Secretary. The original Home Office proposals on police reform are rejected by the Federation membership by a majority of ten to one. Further negotiations produce improvements to the package, putting an estimated £280 millions into the police pay pool. Constables below the top rate will benefit from reductions to the incremental scales. There is scope for extra pay through threshold and special priority payments. Following further membership consultation, the Federation accepts the package in early 2002.

The membership's anger over the pay proposals, and the Federation's opposition to the introduction of Community Service Officers with limited police powers, lead to a mass lobby of Parliament. Over 11,000 members attend and the event attracts huge public and media support. The Government is taken by surprise and is forced on to the defensive. The Prime Minister offers further conciliation. The Home office modifies the pay proposals. After further membership consultation, the Federation accepts the revised offer. The Police Reform Act becomes law.

Further reading

  • "The force of persuasion" by Tony Judge
    Annual Reports of the Joint Central Committee 1920-2002
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