Talks on implementing the new Police Covenant have been described as an “important step forward” by Police Federation national chair John Apter.

John joined Home Secretary Priti Patel and other senior policing figures at the first meeting of the Police Covenant Board which agreed to examine a wide range of proposals to provide police officers and staff with long-term support and protection to carry out their duties, with the focus on health and wellbeing, physical safety, and support for families.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “The Police Covenant is something I believe passionately about, and I am incredibly proud this is finally turning into reality.

“We have worked long and hard on the creation of a covenant to ensure it benefits all police officers, staff, volunteers, their families, and our retired colleagues.

“The first meeting of the Covenant Board is an important step forward and I look forward to playing my part in ensuring the covenant is meaningful and tangible for all our members and their families.”

Staffordshire Police Federation chair Phil Jones said he was delighted high-level discussions on the new covenant were underway.

He said: “We feel very strongly that the bravery and dedication of our members and the sacrifices they and their families are asked to make are properly recognised in a Police Covenant so we welcome the start of these discussions.

“The pressures and challenges faced by police officers have been brought into sharp focus during the pandemic and the time has come to make sure our members are given the support and protection they deserve for the essential work they do.”

The board discussed proposals for occupational health standards to be embedded across all police forces, the appointment of a new chief medical officer for policing in England and Wales and improved training for GPs relating to specific police roles.

Plans to develop pre-deployment mental health support for the entire police workforce and consider what a good support model for families should look like were also discussed at the meeting.

Ms Patel said: “I have been resolute in my determination to ensure that the police have the support they need in order to carry out their duties to protect the public. This is an absolute priority for me.

“The new Police Covenant will recognise the dangers and the harms they face each day as they undertake their duties.”

The Covenant Board will meet every quarter to discuss the Police Covenant, deliver agreed outcomes and monitor progress.

Those attending the meeting alongside PFEW and the Home Office included representatives from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Police Superintendents’ Association, Unison, the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association and the Welsh Government.

A consultation process on the new covenant was launched last year aimed at serving and former police officers, their families and any groups with an interest in supporting the police in England and Wales.

More than 1,000 responses were received, with the highest proportion coming from serving police officers, followed by police staff and retired officers.