History of the Federation

It was inevitable that the establishment of police forces in England and Wales in the 19th Century, coinciding as it did with the growth of the Trades Union Movement, led to the early police officers combining to seek improvements in their pay and working conditions. The first identifiable police union was the National Union of Police and Prison Officers which was formed in 1913. It was relatively short-lived but did organise the London police strike of 1918.

A result of that strike was the birth of the Police Federation of England and Wales. Established by the Police Act of 1919, the measure was hurriedly introduced to make it illegal for police officers to belong to a trade union. The Federation was despised from the outset by the National Union of Police and Prison Officers and a second police strike was called by them in 1919 with the sole object of killing the Police Federation at birth. During the twelve months between the two strikes, many police officers became disenchanted with the political involvement of the Union and this, together with a substantial pay award and the passing of the Police Act, led to the failure of the strike and the ultimate demise of the Union.

The foundations laid by the Committee of Inquiry under Lord Desborough, which led to the Police Act of 1919, survive to this day.