Police Federation

PFEW Chair: 'Pressure on policing back to pre-Covid levels'

Sat, 01 Aug 2020

John Apter

John Apter

The pressure on policing is "back to pre-Covid levels" and officers are being "run ragged", National Chair John Apter told LBC presenter Andrew Castle this morning.

He was invited to comment on the government's announcement of 31 July that facemasks will be mandatory in a host of other public settings (such as cinemas, museums, galleries - see list) and tighter restrictions are being imposed in parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire to halt a spike in coronavirus infections.

Mr Apter said: "I'm scratching my head as to where the extra officers will come from to police this, because early on in this pandemic there were officers out and about patrolling open spaces, I did it myself. That was at a time where an awful lot of the pressure that policing has to deal with had gone away. The pubs and the restaurants and the bars were closed, we were in a pretty tight lockdown and we did have that capacity. And we were out there reassuring the public, policing the open spaces.

"We are not in that place at the moment. The pressure on policing has gone back to pre-Covid levels. We are run ragged. We will do what we can but there are simply not the resources to police in that way."

An uplift of 20,000 police officers is on track despite the pandemic, with more than 3,000 already in place. However, Mr Apter pointed out that "large levels of experienced police officers are leaving". He characterised it as "trying to fill a bucket when there's a hole in it".

He added: "The officers we're getting through are really good passionate people, but the uplift is not happening as quickly as we'd like, because we're still losing too many experienced officers. When it comes to COVID enforcement we're already dealing with members of the public who are getting increasingly frustrated with the changing restrictions, my colleagues are walking a tightrope trying to get the public to understand why we're doing what we're doing. But at the same time we've people calling 999 because there's a crime in action and we don't have the resources to attend."

Mr Apter was also asked about the sentencing of the individuals convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper in Thames Valley. He put on record the condolences of the policing family to PC Harper's wife, Lissie, and family, and warned that the driver of vehicle involved in Andrew's death, could be freed in just over 10 years.

He said: "By any stretch 10 years is a hefty sentence, but for taking the life of a police officer in the execution of his duty as far as I'm concerned and my colleagues, life should mean life and I'll be fighting for that."

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