THE Home Secretary missed out on a proper grilling from officers after this year’s Police Federation of England and Wales’ conference was held online, Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Police Federation Chair has said.
It was the first meeting since 2018, after 2019’s conference was cancelled due to a cyber attack and last year’s was called off due to Covid. The meeting was held virtually, with delegates watching from computer screens and sending questions from their desks.
Zoë said: “I think for a virtual conference it was good. But I think you lose a lot from it not being in person. The Home Secretary wasn’t challenged – we didn’t have the opportunity to challenge her. We could put questions in but you couldn’t ask her directly.
“She wasn’nt able to pick up on the mood of the audience which may have affected what she said or how she reacted. As a result the questions were sanitised.
“I think generally the content of some of the subject matters was good and I think there were some good discussions.”
In previous years, representatives have stood up from their seats to address the Home Secretary face-to-face about the issues facing their members.
However, because representatives were watching from work, they were unable to give the meeting their full attention as they were pulled away to answer phone calls and emails. Usually representative would arrange cover so they could attend the meeting in person, Zoë said.
Priti Patel told the conference on 9 June: “The overarching message is of enormous thanks and gratitude for the service officers have given. We have all experienced some terrible things but policing has been front and centre. It has been heroic and I want to give my thanks to everybody who has been out that because they have helped to save lives.” But she stopped at promising them a pay rise.