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Reward for federated ranks lacking in honours system

Secretive panels overwhelmingly award what was originally a 'heroic acts of courage' medal to chief officers.

Northants Fed chairman Gez Jackson said reward is a perennial problem for police

Northants Fed chairman Gez Jackson said reward is a perennial problem for police

Date - 10th June 2016
By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle
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A chief officer is more than 1,500 times more likely to be awarded a Queen’s Police Medal than someone of federated rank.

Analysis by PoliceOracle.com of the 255 QPMs handed out since 2011 found that 40 per cent were for chief officers – who make up less than one per cent of all police personnel.

Meanwhile those at ranks from constable to chief inspector – around 98 per cent of the total - received 36 per cent of all QPMs.

The London Gazette’s announcement of the establishment of the then-King’s Police Medal in July 1909 said it was established to honour “heroic acts of courage and instances of conspicuous devotion to duty”.

It was later displaced to a certain extent by other medals in respect of gallantry, but the criteria used to decide who should receive the honour is not entirely clear.

Gez Jackson, chairman of Northamptonshire Police Federation, said the issue is worthy of debate.

He added: “Reward and recognition is a perennial problem in the public sector and in particular within the police, and it is probably more important now that we’re expected to do more with less.

“To be fair my force asks if there’s anyone we would consider nominating, which is positive.”

He added: “It is something local Fed branches and also the national Fed address through our own awards events, and they don’t only reward outcomes as forces sometimes do.”

Former Gloucestershire chief Tim Brain told PoliceOracle.com that most chief constables can expect to be awarded the QPM.

"I think for 30-40 years it was almost exclusively awarded to chief officers.

"That’s evened up a bit really in about the last 15 years with the ‘people’s honours’ and the feeling that more people should be given them," the policing academic, who was awarded both the OBE and QPM in his career, said.

“Chief constables are taking on an awful lot of responsibility they, by definition will not have got to their job without a demonstrable track record, so it’s not unreasonable that chief officers should receive recognition for their service."

He explained when he was chief he would canvass heads of departments, chief supers and the Fed for suggestions to send off.

“Of course, none of us actually know how the honours are awarded,” Dr Brain added.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK in which officers of Fed rank make up the vast majority of recipients of the only regularly awarded police-exclusive honour.

PSNI officers receive six QPMs a year.

Despite being asked, a Home Office spokesman did not detail reasons behind the award of the honours to officers in England and Wales, but explained that the Home Secretary makes recommendations after speaking to a committee of representatives from the NPCC, Met, HMIC and College of Policing.

The award is even less representative of the workforce in Scotland where just one officer of Federated rank has been awarded a QPM since 2011.

There are usually six QPMs a year awarded in Scotland.

However, unlike in England and Wales, special constables are regularly considered for the gong, with four of them receiving it in the period.

When asked to explain the situation, the Scottish Government said that Police Scotland now submits nominations for the QPM and these are considered by an “independent panel” which judges them.

PoliceOracle.com's analysis did not include figures for the 2016 Birthday Honours which will be announced tomorrow.

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