The history of police staff associations can be traced back to the 19th century when officers were denied any rights of association, were poorly paid, worked long hours without days off and were subject to very strict discipline. Police strikes and the use of the military to restore and maintain order were not uncommon. The present prohibition on joining a trade union or taking strike action can be traced back to this early turbulent history.
Whilst the 1919 Police Act created a Police Federation in England and Wales to represent officers below the rank of superintendent, no formal provision was made for superintendents.
At that time, superintendents did not enjoy the rights of membership of the newly instituted staff association as did the ranks below superintendents, nor the arrangements in place that permitted Chief Officers to come together in the Chief Constables Association of England and Wales that applied to city and borough police forces.
In 1920 the Home Office called a central conference of superintendents, one from each force, or two from those with more than twelve superintendents, to decide how they should be represented on the Police Council, and this was the embryo for the present Superintendents’ Association. The delegates decided to elect one county and one city or borough superintendent to the Police Council and a committee of eight was formed to communicate with the Home Secretary.
The Police Council met for the first time on 6th July quickly formulating police regulations to provide national conditions of service, discipline and allowances.
The following year, the Home Secretary approved the establishment of four permanent District conferences for superintendents, with each force sending one representative or two from larger forces. They were permitted to convene twice yearly at public expense.
In 1952, a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Oaksey published a report, making a series of recommendations on matters impacting on police pay and conditions of service. The Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales was formed which included the Metropolitan Police Service in London and the City of London Police, both of which hitherto had been outside to the previous arrangements.
In subsequent years, the Association as the sole representative body for superintendents and chief superintendents, represented the members through a series of reforms including most notably the Willink Commission (1960), the Edmund-Davies Inquiry (1977) the Sheehy Inquiry (1992) and the Winsor review ( 2010).
As the Association grew in strength and influence over the years, the Home Office approved and funded a Chief Superintendent to be seconded as the full time Secretary of the Association and additional funding in 1983, 1995 and 2004 respectively for the posts of National President, National Deputy Secretary and Vice President.
The year 2002 marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Association. To mark the event, a new heraldic coat of arms was granted to the Association and was presented on behalf of her Majesty the Queen at the national conference in Cheshire by the Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire, Mr William Bromley Davenport.
On 23rd May 2018 the Association became a Public Limited Company.