Damning review criticises Police Federation in wake of Plebgate prosecution

The body that represents rank-and-file police officers has been damaged by political game-playing, according to a damning report, and is facing questions over an estimated £95m held in reserves and assets.

An independent review of the Police Federation carried out by charity the RSA (formerly the Royal Society of Arts) found there was “widespread dismay” over the behaviour of some members in the wake of the Plebgate affair.

Chairman Steve Williams said the review showed the damage that had been done by the row, and apologised to former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell for the conduct of Pc Keith Wallis, who pretended to have seen a confrontation between the politician and officers in Downing Street.

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The report also found that the organisation is sharply divided into local factions, with just three branches that hold separate accounts giving details to the review, and 13 out of the total 43 refusing to respond at all.

The Federation’s latest published accounts show that centrally held reserves are at £29.5m and those held by branch boards stand at around £35m, but there is also another estimated £30m in separate accounts, details of which have not been given to the national heads.

The RSA said that subscription rates should be cut by 25 per cent in 2015, subsidised by central reserves, in a bid to hand back some of the money to members.

Police Federation chairman Steve Williams said: “The independent review details the damage that has been done to the Police Federation and the police service by the impact from the media-termed Plebgate affair. Any incident that undermines public confidence is regrettable.

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“When police get it wrong it is only right and proper that we take responsibility for our actions.

“Following the conviction of PC Keith Wallis it is only appropriate that I apologise to Mr Mitchell for the officer’s actions.

Mr Williams added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to our members and the wider public for the damage this unfortunate incident has had in undermining confidence in the police service.”

Some members of the Federation, which represents officers from the rank of constable to inspector, went head to head with former chief whip Mr Mitchell after he was involved in a foul- mouthed confrontation with officers in Downing Street.