John Apter has been reacting to the extraordinary scenes this weekend, where police officers have come under attack at anti-racism protests by a minority seeking confrontation.
The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales was a guest on BBC Breakfast on Monday morning (8 June) to discuss events of the weekend, including the tearing down of a statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.
Asked why police had not stepped in, Mr Apter defended the approach of commanders across the country making critical decisions in order to manage situations – in these circumstances police are “damned if we do and damned if we don’t”, he said.
Despite best efforts to calm tensions, 35 officers have been injured in the protests so far, including a Mounted Branch officer who was thrown from her horse, and is recovering in hospital.
Mr Apter said: “Officers are having bricks thrown at them and are being subjected to vile levels of violence. To see people stood at the side laughing and joking, thinking it’s funny, and commentators trying to justify this lawless action, is an utter disgrace. Those people should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”
He also took aim at the major broadcasters for failing to cover the attacks against officers and said a minority had hijacked the legitimate concerns of the protest.
Mr Apter added: “I’m very proud of the Cenotaph and those who laid down their lives for us. To see our country damaged in such a way is painful and sad. I think many people will lose sympathy with the protests.”
Speaking to Talk Radio this afternoon, he expressed support for the Metropolitan Police Federation which is calling on bosses to ensure officers are appropriately equipped with public order gear –including helmets and shields – when they are attacked by violent protestors.
And in an interview with LBC, Mr Apter commented: “The genuine protesters who have got a legitimate concern need to be heard – but we can't listen in the midst of such violence and outrageous actions towards my colleagues, because the message will be lost.”