Guest Blog: Michelle Pidgen and Brian Williams

The Federation elections in March saw a group of new Reps chosen by members across the force area.

One of the newly elected, first-time reps was Michelle Pidgen who has joined Pennine East Division alongside the likes of Ryan Griffiths and Tanya Rickard. Michelle has already completed conduct training and is now a Federation Friend.

Fourteen Reps stood unopposed at the election, one of whom was Brian Williams from B Division South. As well as being one of our longest serving and most experienced Reps he is a Federation Friend, health and safety trained and the Secretary of his area committee.

For this month's guest blog, we caught up with both Michelle and Brian to find out more about their roles as Reps and what motivated them to stand.

Michelle joined the police service in 1994 and transferred to BTP five years later. "I was a frontline police officer until the last two years," she told us. "I am currently on a secondment to the positive action recruitment team. I love the role and it is great that I can use my experience to encourage others - especially from underrepresented groups - to consider a career in policing."

"I know the Fed is more representative and as a female with 28 years police service, the majority of which being frontline policing, I want to be a part of a network that in the last few years I have seen modernise and become more accountable to its members. I like the direction that the Fed is moving in. It is more professional than it ever was, and all the Reps are well trained.

"I want to be part of positive changes in the Federation, the Force and policing in general. The Federation can provide the opportunity to have a voice, such as at the annual conference when there will be question time with the Chief Constable. Such opportunities on the ground are rare and it is great to know that I can put ideas forward that might contribute to helping colleagues in the future."

Brian also has decades of policing experience and is well-known on his division. He is often asked why he is a Rep and it's something he had been pondering when we spoke to him, prompted by a question from a young colleague.

"I was in the office at London Bridge and a PC asked me why I am a Fed Rep, saying that from what he could see, all I get from it is grief. It did get me thinking.

"I regularly get contacted both at work and on my rest days. I carry the weight of members' individual personal and professional problems and am expected to find solutions to them while working shifts myself. All this while other colleagues tell me that the Federation is useless, and that Reps achieve nothing.

"I have had it said that people only become Reps to avoid work and to claim expenses. I have supervisors tell me that I devote too much time to Fed work and members who say that their needs are neglected when I do not get back to them straightaway. I am expected to be able to change Force policy, the decisions of the Chief Constable and other senior officers, Government policy and even the law itself overnight. And get called useless when I cannot.

"So why do I do it? Because I remember the times when a Federation Rep stood by my side in times of trouble. Who guided me through complaints and Professional Standards investigations. Who contacted me when my daughter died.

"I follow that Rep's example and do good when I can. One member, one case at a time."

Like Brian (and many other Reps) Michelle also mentioned the support she has received from the Federation as being a factor in her deciding to stand for election.

"My years of experience have given me the ability to speak up when needed and I am not easily fazed," Michelle said. "I want to support colleagues when they need help and having recently been on the misconduct course, I feel I am equipped to do so.

"I hope to be as good as the Fed rep I was lucky to have when I needed help and guidance a few years ago. It was as this time that I realised what a great job Fed reps do and that you never know when you might just need one!"

Michelle and Brian will meet at the annual Federation conference in Cardiff next month, where they will receive inputs on financial wellbeing and mental health, hear from the Rail Minister and put questions to the Chief Constable and British Transport Police Authority.

When asked what advice he would give to new reps such as Michelle, Brian quoted the theologian and political commentator, Reinhold Niebuhr:

"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

If you're not sure who your local reps are, you can find out here. This area of the website is password protected so if you can't remember your access information, email us at info@btpfed.co.uk