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Parliament will protect covenant, Home Secretary promises

The campaign backed by Police Oracle to get welfare protection enshrined in law is set to become a reality for current and retired officers and staff, Priti Patel has confirmed.
Published - 08/09/2020 By - Chris Smith

Priti Patel confirmed at the Police Superintendents’ Association annual conference that the Police Covenant will be introduced in legislation in the new Parliamentary session.

She announced it will be extended to cover all who work or have worked in policing and will be subject to a yearly review by Parliament.

There will be a new Chief Medical Officer for Policing in England and Wales.

“You have waited too long for this Covenant,” she said.

The Home Secretary revealed it would apply to current and past officers providing support for their physical and mental health as well as help for their families.

The announcement followed a government consultation with officers which closed last month. It revealed more than 90% of respondents backed the government’s plans.

The legislation will include:

  • Placing a requirement on the Home Secretary to report annually to Parliament on progress with the Covenant
  • Ensuring the Covenant applies to all those working within or retired from policing roles, whether paid or as a volunteer
  • Putting the initial focus of the Covenant on physical protection, health and wellbeing, as well as support for families
  • Implementing a new governance structure to drive forward activity on wellbeing and protection to fulfil the Covenant.

The update came a year after the Home Secretary made the commitment that the covenant would be enshrined in law.

The campaign by Police Oracle and the Police Federation to create the Covenant was triggered by the Home Office’s Front Line Review which highlighted concerns of police officers and staff and the need to do more to help them.

The Review identified a wide range of issues, including:

  • Frontline officers, staff and volunteers feeling undervalued by the wider policing system;
  • A disconnect between the front line and senior/national decision makers;
  • Scepticism about wellbeing measures, and a desire to see meaningful action with a lasting impact.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The police and the families that stand behind them deserve special recognition. Their bravery and sacrifices are what keep us and our loved ones safe. I will put the Police Covenant in law to ensure they will always have the support of the nation."

John Apter, National Chair, Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said: “This Covenant will mean much more than words to serving or former police officers. It recognises the unique position they hold in society and the fact they very often put their lives on the line. 

“The benefits of this Police Covenant will be welcomed by the entire policing family. We would therefore like to thank the Home Secretary for her enthusiastic support and for turning PFEW’s campaign for a Covenant into a reality.”

President of the Police Superintendents’ Association, Paul Griffiths, said it was “a sign of clear value” to the families of officers and staff who have made sacrifices in carrying out their duties.

“Today’s update is extremely positive and we will provide the experience and support of our members in further work to develop this.”

Gary Mason, Editor of Police Oracle said: “Officer welfare over the whole course of a policing career has emerged as a key area for forces to address. The Covenant is significant in that it is the first time the issue has been given statutory backing.”

But in introducing the Home Secretary, Mr Griffiths warned his members were still working hours well in excess of the legal limit.

He revealed Superintendents were working the hours equivalent to having an extra 160 full-time officers at that rank.

He said: “Can we knowingly ignore this issue? I still believe we have a long way to go.”

Westminster politicians signalled they were ready to support the introduct

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