4 April 2019
Despite uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the European Union police officers will step up and do what is required to protect the public whatever the outcome.
That is the response of the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales following yesterday’s briefing from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which detailed the operational policing plans surrounding Brexit.
The chiefs reassured they have prepared for a range of scenarios if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, including planning for potential protest, crime and emergencies.
Although they are not predicting it, they have plans to deal with a worst-case scenario which would require a full-scale force mobilisation with the potential to deploy 10,000 public order-trained officers in the space of 24 hours.
PFEW National Chair John Apter, said: “Preparations for Brexit have been ongoing since the referendum in 2016 and we have been working closely with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Police Co-ordination Centre since that time.
“As was demonstrated by the NPCC’s briefing yesterday the operational policing plan is very detailed, and well-developed, given the dynamic nature of the situation.
“And as is only appropriate, the chiefs’ plan covers what might happen in a worst-case scenario – and although no one is predicting that this will be the outcome – policing must be prepared.”
NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt led the briefing which was given to members of the media yesterday. During the session it was acknowledged that if a full-scale force mobilisation did occur localised policing services would be affected.
A view echoed by Mr Apter: “Policing in England and Wales has lost almost 22,000 officers since 2010. We are a service which has been stripped to the bone. If we do see the situation where forces are having to deploy significant numbers of officers to other parts of the country, there will be consequences at a local level, and we would appeal to the public for their support and understanding.
“Be assured, my colleagues will always do the best they can, but they may well be under increased pressure during this time.”
Chief Constable Charlie Hall, who chairs the NPCC’s group responsible for strategic planning related to Brexit, said we could reach a stage where all of policing would be expected to work at an increased pace with officers having to undertake 12-hour shifts.
He added this would be feasible for the first seven days as they can rotate officers and in extreme cases forces can look at deprioritising and cancelling training or events.
Mr Apter stressed whatever happens the welfare of officers must be paramount: “Whatever the outcome of the political negotiations police officers will step up and do what is needed to keep the public safe as they do day in day out.
“The Police Federation’s focus is our members’ welfare, and we will continue to work closely with the chiefs to ensure this is the priority as they deal with whatever challenges they face over the coming months.”
At least 15 regional forces put restrictions on leave, whilst Kent and Hampshire Police have officially asked for mutual aid.