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THE CHAIR ANSWERS


avoid a knee jerk response. I understand passions run high on social media and I’ve had a lot of criticism, particularly on things like pensions but some of the abuse has crossed the line. Sometimes when you’ve had a bad day, or things are happening in your personal life, it can hurt.


AG: What is your response to the criticism over police pensions? JA: The way police ofcers were treated was a deep and devastating betrayal by the government of the day. I’ve seen some anonymous trolls say on social media that I promised to get their pension back during the run-up to the National Chair election. I never said anything of the sort. I’ll never, ever make a promise I know I can’t keep. I promised to review PFEW’s original legal advice, and not only did I do that but, along with the new National Secretary Alex Duncan we got new legal advice. I can’t unpick what has been done before I took ofce, but I do understand the anger.


John Apter ‘on patrol’ aged six


AG: BAME officer recruitment. Your thoughts? JA: We need to be truly reflective of the communities we serve. The reason I say this is because for some people it is just a tick box and not meaningful. I have seen eyes roll when certain things are said. Then you sit down with someone who’s not from the same background as you and has had certain struggles you can never empathise with because you’ve not been in their shoes. Some people need a leg-up and treating everybody equally is not always fair. I don’t think the job is quite there yet. Culturally we’ve got so much more to do, and the Federation is playing a part.


CONTINUED ON PAGE 19 >


have a constructive relationship doesn’t mean it’s a cosy one. At my first meeting with Sajid Javid as Home Secretary, he agreed to Specials becoming members of the Federation and supported our push for emergency drivers to get better protection. Priti Patel, his successor, gave £10m of the back of a conversation about ring-fenced funding for Taser. That has allowed hundreds more ofcers to have protection. Just because we’ve got a good relationship doesn’t mean we can always get what we want, but to be able to pick up the phone and say “this is not acceptable” and they are listening to you in a respectful and equal way is surely a good thing.


AG: Why do you do so much media? JA: Whether we like it or not the media are a big part of society. We have a 24/7 rolling news system and if members want us to have a voice


then I’ve got to be able to speak in the media. There are certain things I won’t speak on, such as if it’s not relevant to our members or policing. But if you can say things in the media which influence key people in policing or politicians, it’s important. I made a promise to be the most visible Chair I could be. That’s not only getting out on patrol with our members, it’s also about the media. When we’ve got national media coming to us because we’re a credible voice for policing, that tells me that we’re getting the balance right.


AG: Is social media a good use of your time? JA: Members have told me from way back when I was Chair of Hampshire that they want to see the human side and what I’m up to. There is pressure 24/7 for me to respond to stuf. That is not always practical, and I also must consider what I’m saying and


DECEMBER 2020 | POLICE | 17


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