I was genuinely very saddened today to hear of the sudden death of Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, and tireless campaigner in protecting the rights of the officers ‘on the street’ and a thoroughly nice chap to boot.
In the last year alone, who can forget the rousing speech he gave at the mass rally of police officers, staff, family and friends in London on May 10th 2012, and his opening gambit “Colleagues, fellow officers, we ARE the finest police service in the world and YOU are the finest police officers in the finest police service in the world …”
If you need to remind yourself, just watch the video below (Paul’s speech starts at 2mins 57seconds)
And who can forget his masterstroke comments to Home Secretary Theresa May during the 2012 Police Federation Conference when Paul asked the assembled audience to “put their hands up if they believed the Winsor report into pay and conditions was independent.” He turned to Mrs May and said: “Not even you put your hand up.”
Many people have commented negatively on the Police Federation recently, and about the way it appears to have been heading, myself included, and I have had the privilege on more than one occasion of debating my thoughts directly with Paul on the phone. Needless to say, i don’t think he necessarily agreed with my ramblings, but what I can say is that he always listened and never criticised another point of view.
He was also forthcoming with plenty of advice and was more than happy to talk directly; not through a myriad of committees, or distant reps, or press officers, but directly – surely a credit to a man for whom nothing really seemed too much trouble.
The last time I spoke with Paul was in Manchester in early October. We were both there for the worst of reasons; the funerals of two police officers killed in the line of duty. Even then, with hundreds and hundreds of people around, Paul made time to acknowledge and speak with as many people as he possibly could.
I recall the point when he asked me if I’d been to see the DCC at Greater Manchester Police, how funny he’d found it that the Force had agreed to put my pseudonym on a Certificate of Special Recognition rather that my correct details, and then the sudden realisation he may have let the cat out of the bag too early. He hadn’t though. As he put it then “If that’s not a sign that Twitter has come of age in policing, what is ?”.
The Police Federation magazine was due to run an article with Paul, detailing his thoughts and reflections on his time in the police service. I do hope they still publish it for all to read. But just in case that doesn’t happen, you can read it now by clicking here.
Paul McKeever had already announced his retirement as Chairman of the Police Federation, and his successor, Steve Williams is all ready to take the mantle on. It’s a big pair of boots for Steve to fill, but the best legacy we can all leave for Paul, is to make that happen.
In the shorter term, @TheCustodySgt has already tweeted the hashtag #StandForPaul. It’s very early days yet; everyone at Federation Headquarters are in shock at today’s news, and obviously Paul’s family are devastated. Over the next few days we will be trying to see what assistance can be offered in preparing and providing a fitting tribute to the man who has led rank and file police officers through the most turbulent period in policing for many years.
If you use Twitter and / or Facebook, please tweet or post the hashtag #StandForPaul to show your support, and stand by for further information.
I personally feel proud to have met Paul McKeveer and being given the opportunity discuss matters with him on a one-to-one level (especially as I’m not even a Fed Rep !). Sleep well mate, you deserve that. RIP.