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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

"To Celebrate a Copper". Avon and Somerset Police Federation Secretary Tony Henley reacts to Channel 4 documentary series on the force

13 February 2024


Avon and Somerset Police Officers are out on our streets day and night putting their lives on the line to fight crime and keep people safe. 

That is the reality. 

Our colleagues come to work every day to make a difference. And actions that can take place in seconds can be poured over for years by those with hindsight from the comfort of their offices or armchairs.  

Policing takes a heavy toll.  

There were 1,552 assaults on Avon and Somerset Police officers recorded last year. 275 police officers in Avon and Somerset Police took time off work for stress, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.  

That is the reality. 

Officers are being attacked - punched, kicked, spat at, stabbed, driven at by cars and worse. 

They are having to sadly attend road accidents where limbs are sprawled across the road, see victims of horrific violence, attend incident where babies have passed away. 

A member of the public may only see 3/4 traumatic incident in their lives... police officers see more than 400... 

These are not robots. They are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands, wives and partners. We must remember this.

This is the reality. 

All officers in our job understand and accept they will be subject to scrutiny for their actions.  

This comes with our work - and our professional standards must always be high.  

This is right and proper.   

Whilst accepting we undertake a very testing, demanding and stressful role, colleagues will be saddened by the small number of incidents – focused on in a prime time Channel 4 documentary - that have shown policing and officers in a bad light.  

Police officers have no issue with being held accountable for their actions – we are the most accountable of public services. But whilst putting policing under a microscope there should always be ample fairness and balance. 

Unfortunately we did not see enough of this fairness or balance over the past three weeks on Channel 4 with their documentary into our force. 

Where was the focus on the dangers colleagues face every day? The abuse we receive? The complexity of what we are faced with? And the fast paced and dynamic decisions officers have to make under extreme pressure? 

Where is the documentary on the hundreds of hard working, brave and courageous police officers - who are out there as you read this - working tirelessly to keep people safe? 

We have said it before. We say it again. This wouldn’t take five years to make, it would take five days.  

This is also the reality – the reality that was not broadcast on national television.   

The Federation will make no apology for speaking up for our good officers. We do it today and will continue to do so.  

Our colleagues who we have surveyed these past few weeks are livid about how they have been portrayed. It's frankly not good enough to have their profession pilloried like this and they have made their feelings clear to us. 

Our view is that everyone now has to work together to move Avon and Somerset Police forward and make it a proud organisation that the public respect and trust. 

And equally that people want to be part of and serve in. 

To that end Avon and Somerset Police Federation have begun and are continuing to look into proactive ways to highlight publicly the fantastic work of our colleagues who are furious about how they've been portrayed in this one sided documentary.

To show and celebrate that reality.

Watch this space.

What we can say is our focus will be to celebrate our coppers.