Devon and Cornwall Police Federation: Officers Must Be Properly Protected While Policing G7
2 June 2021
Thousands of police officers working on the G7 Summit in Cornwall must be properly kitted up to deal with potentially violent protests – even if world leaders might be expecting to see traditional British Bobbies keeping them safe.
That is the message from Devon and Cornwall Police Federation Chair Andy Berry (pictured) who has highlighted the importance of the thousands of officers policing the summit having the correct PPE to stop them being injured – including where necessary helmets and shields.
The G7 Summit is being held in Carbis Bay on 11-13 June and will be attended by leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, American President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It is the biggest police operation the force has ever seen, with officers from Devon and Cornwall Police being joined by some 5,000 colleagues from across the UK in a mutual aid operation to assist in policing what are expected to be mass protests and demonstrations.
“I don’t care if the President of the United States Joe Biden wants to see cute-looking British Bobbies lining the streets,” said Andy. “That’s the least of my concerns. Public and political perception must not come into it. I want those Bobbies to be properly attired and protected, so if it goes wrong they’ve got the best chance of coming away without an injury.”
Andy said: “We have said to the force: ‘Please reassure us that cops aren’t going to be unnecessarily put at risk’. It’s certainly a concern when we know that there are going to be protests. We hope they’re not going to be violent protests, but it feels like there’s a high likelihood of it and we don’t want to see officers injured. They shouldn’t be. We should be prepared for it.”
The importance of officers wearing the proper protective kit was highlighted last month after a PC sustained a significant slash wound to his face after being attacked by protestors at Old Trafford football ground in Manchester. Officers in London have also been attacked and left bloodied during recent anti-lockdown protests in the capital.
Both the Metropolitan Police Federation and Greater Manchester Police Federation called for their colleagues to be appropriately equipped – including with helmets and shields – when policing protests. Andy agreed, saying that police officers had been injured too often in recent months due to not wearing the right gear.
He said: “We’re still wearing uniform from years and years ago. Our everyday headgear was designed in the 19th century and we have barely moved on. Compare that with the Fire Brigade who left their ‘Trumpton’ hats years ago, and paramedics, who also have better headgear than us. Except for when we wear full PSU kit, our most protective headgear is when we patrol on pedal cycles.
“I think it’s time for a national conversation about appropriate headgear for our officers – it should offer greater safety and practicality and visors could protect us from spitting. The hats could be tech enabled… there are many possibilities, yet we wear what is antiquated kit.”
It was vital that the police force was proactive rather than reactive when it comes to protecting police officers at the Summit, Andy said: “The force reassures us that protest teams will be available and will be close by. The worry is at what threshold will they be deployed? How many bricks does it take to be thrown at officers before we bring in reinforcements? How many officers need to be injured? Our view is that one injury is one too many.”
Devon and Cornwall Police Federation Secretary Jim Purkiss added: “It’s about ensuring we don’t put members in harm’s way. We’re not there to be spat at, kicked, punched, and have bottles and bricks thrown at us. We’re at the G7 Summit to facilitate peaceful protest and to keep world leaders safe.”