Federation Chair concerned that lockdown will cause an increase in assaults on officers
5 November 2020
Devon and Cornwall Police Federation has voiced fears that public hostility over lockdown could see an increase in unacceptable police assaults against their members.
Andy Berry, Federation Chair, was speaking as the country enters a month of new national restrictions that will see officers once again tasked with ensuring people stay at home wherever possible.
He encouraged the public to work with his colleagues over the new lockdown, rather than break the rules.
Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will be closing for at least a month while unnecessary travel in and out of local areas should be avoided the Government has said.
The general rule of thumb is to stay at home.
Andy said: “I am fearful that my members may suffer increased hostility from the public in our two counties who might feel that enforcing a lockdown is disproportionate to the infection rates. My biggest fear is that this will again turn into another upsurge of assaults on police officers.”
Last month the Government announced an extra £60 million funding to ensure police officers can be more visible on the streets. But this could have an unexpected side effect, Andy said.
He said: “Whilst additional funding is welcome, it seems to come with an expectation that the force will demonstrate how it has used the money to enforce Covid-compliance. This could have unintentional consequences and I could never support a culture of ‘payment by results’ for the police.”
He added: “Officers in Devon and Cornwall have been working tirelessly since the start of lockdown, through a really busy Covid summer which saw great demands on our members due to increased holiday travel into our two counties. They are weary and frustrated with trying to encourage the public to comply with guidance, or obey laws which much of the public feel confused about.”
The Police Federation of England and Wales has also called for clarity around the new regulations this week.
Chair John Apter said: “Policing is already under enough pressure. My colleagues have been doing their best to police restrictions which have changed on a regular basis and have often been confusing. It is clear that the virus has not gone away and is spreading at an alarming rate. We must be clear in what we are asking of the public and what we are expecting of the police. The information from Government must be clear and unambiguous. Anything less makes the policing of this pandemic even more challenging than it is already.”