23 April 2020
The efforts of police service - along with the NHS and other public services – have assisted to hold the country together during the coronavirus crisis, the Greater Manchester Police Federation Chairman has said.
Stu Berry added that he hopes the Government will offer more than “mere words of support” when the economic ramifications become clear.
“The NHS and our system of policing are some of this country’s greatest achievements, but there will be an economic reckoning due to Covid-19, of that there is little doubt,” said Stu.
He said he hopes that the police and other public services will not be seen as “easy targets when the fiscal ramifications of this pandemic are laid bare”. He continued: “The past 10 years of austerity nearly crippled us; we deserve and have earned more than mere words of support when our pay and conditions are negotiated in the future.”
One of the challenges police officers face is being spat at by offenders who threaten to give them the coronavirus. A number of such incidents have occurred in Greater Manchester, and earlier this month Shaun Sleigh of Salford was jailed for 36 weeks for assaulting an officer and threatening to spit on her, claiming he had Covid-19.
Stu said: “There is only one place suitable for individuals who are found guilty of weaponising Covid-19 and that is prison. I am aware of some vile incidents involving spitting and biting and our members should not have to deal with these types of assault.
“I fully support the use of Spit and Bite Guards when our members feel they are necessary, but we need the support of the Criminal Justice System to continue to punish these disgusting individuals to the full extent with lengthy custodial sentences and significant fines when they are released.”
Meanwhile the Federation is working with the force to help self-isolating members and their cohabiting families get tested for Covid-19. The Federation and GMP’s People Hub are also finding alternative accommodation for members who have high-risk people within their household. Many Manchester hotels have offered rooms free of charge.
Stu said that police officers have continued to do a good job of adapting to working in a different way during “extremely demanding times”.
He said: “We live in a democracy and a free society and as police officers we respect that and are simply here to help to protect our communities. We police by consent and our system of policing is admired throughout the world.”
His message to the public was: “I thank the vast majority of the public have adhered to social distancing rules, and I ask that you continue to help my members to help you. Stay at home and stop the spread of this disease.”