When the Police Federation was established in 1919, not only did the three ranks become separate elements, but England and Wales were separated from Scotland and further divisions, viz., county forces, city and borough forces and London, were created for electoral purposes. Until 1969, each element elected two delegates at Conference to form the Central Committee for its rank. In 1952, women members were allowed to elect one member from each rank to sit on the Branch Board as advisers and a proportion of those elected representatives were allowed to attend Conference and to elect one of each rank to serve on the Central Committees. In 1959, the position of women was given statutory recognition and they were afforded full voting rights.
With the disappearance of many city and borough forces in the late 1960's, England and Wales were re-divided for electoral purposes into eight regions. With the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police Areas forming one of those regions. From 1970, delegates to Conference have elected one member in each rank from each of the provincial regions to serve on the Central Committees. The Metropolitan Police and City of London Police together elect two members in each rank and the women members, one in each rank for the same purpose.
Each Central Committee now comprises 10 members and the Joint Central Committee, 30 members.
At the first meeting after the first Conference in the electoral period, each Central Committee elects its official. The Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer of the Joint Central Committee are fully employed as such and become additional members of their respective Branch Boards while so serving. They also attend Conferences as additional delegates.
The Central Committee elect from their numbers, representatives to a number of bodies, including the Police Negotiating Board, the Police Advisory Board, the Police Training Council, the Police College Board of Governors and Advisory Committee, the National Police Fund Advisory and Education Committees, the Police Dependants' Trust Fund Trustees and Management Committee and the Police Rehabilitation Centre Trustees.
The Joint Central Committee also sets up its own sub-committees to deal with particular subjects as they arise. A number of Standing Committees exist, such as Finance and General Purposes, Discipline, Promotion and Training, Constitution, Legislation, District Training Centres and Pensions. In addition, the Joint Central Committee is automatically requested to appoint representatives to Working Parties set up by the Home Department to consider any aspect of police duties or conditions affecting the Federated ranks.
The Central Committees meet regularly throughout the year at different venues, the greater part of their business being done in joint sessions.