23 January 2023
Police officers should not be deployed to fill the gaps left by fellow public sector workers who are taking industrial action, according to Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.
Tony’s comments came as thousands of UNISON ambulance workers staged strikes today (Monday 23 January) for the third time in five weeks.
He said: “The police service is stretched to its limits and not really in a position to act as cover for other emergency service workers who are striking over pay and conditions.
“Police officers are also in dispute over pay and conditions but, of course, are not allowed to go on strike and the irony of that situation is not lost on our members.”
National Federation chair Steve Hartshorn told MPs that members found it “galling” when told to step in during public sector strikes.
He told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee: “I have received anecdotal accounts from our branch chairs and secretaries about members being asked to ferry victims to hospitals.
“That takes away from their core function of being a police officer - to protect and detect crime.
“When they get to the hospital they are sat around for a long time, like the ambulances, and can be there in pairs for hours.”
Steve said police officers were also called upon to ensure public safety during industrial action.
He said: “If railway workers go on strike and you suddenly have large numbers of people at the train stations, that’s an extra burden on police officers to deal with their safety.
“It is right to do that but again it takes away from our core function of responding to 999 calls and trying to be proactive in how we can deter crime from taking place in those very areas.
“It is disheartening for our members because, of course, they do not have the right to strike as Crown servants.”