In Brief

Bullying at Police Federation 'rivals any soap opera', say MPs

Federation chairman says he was 'ridiculed and verbally attacked' for trying to implement change

A GROUP of MPs have said they are "shocked" by the scale of "endemic bullying" in the higher echelons of the Police Federation of England and Wales. The staff association, which represents tens of thousands of rank-and-file officers, is expected to propose radical reforms at its annual conference next week after commissioning an independent report to see how it could improve, reports the BBC.

MPs on the Home Affairs Committee published the results of their follow-up inquiry today, which said the scale of bullying at the federation's headquarters in Surrey "rivals any popular soap opera".

Steve Williams, who has resigned as chairman of the federation, and Paul McKeever, his predecessor who died in office, have been subject to "systematic campaigns of abuse which have no place in a professional organisation", said the report.

It was Williams who called for reform and commissioned former civil servant Sir David Normington to carry out a top-to-toe review of the association – a decision that proved unpopular among some of his fellow officers.

That report "found ordinary officers had lost confidence in the federation amid the complete failure of its strategy to oppose government cuts to policing" and exposed a culture of bullying, says the BBC.

In a letter drafted but not sent to his colleagues, Williams said he had "continually been criticised, ridiculed and verbally attacked for my standing in relation to the Independent Review".

MPs said the "dysfunctional relationships" at the federation headquarters had "seriously undermined the organisation's ability to speak with a powerful voice on behalf of its members".

The report also accused the federation of pointlessly sitting on £70m of its members' money. It said that money from the central committee should be returned to members at the earliest possible opportunity with a subscription freeze next year. It added that a 50 per cent reduction in central reserves would mean a £120 subscription rebate per officer.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said the country's police service "is the best in the world" but its "reputation has been extensively damaged by the federation suffering a sustained period of self-inflicted harm".

The Police Federation welcomed the report, which reiterated the Normington review, and said it would be working to implement them at its conference next week.

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