24 March 2021
The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, has appeared on BBC Breakfast (Wednesday 24 March) and detailed the shocking realities of policing violent protests such those which took place in Bristol on Sunday and Tuesday night.
Speaking about the incidents, Mr Apter said: “I am a fundamental believer in people’s right to peaceful and lawful protest. The vast majority of people who attend protests do it peacefully and normally. We saw that during the day on Sunday. But there’s a hardcore element who will hijack any situation for their own means.
“What we saw on Sunday evening was extreme violence aimed at police- anarchy. Even police vans being set on fire with officers inside. That’s not protest. That’s just violence.”
Mr Apter also highlighted the way in which PFEW members have faced criticism from both sides of the debate on policing protests.
He added: “No matter what my colleagues do, we face criticism, some for not being strong enough and others for doing too much. Even when we had officers being admitted to hospital with broken bones, all kinds of injuries, we had some people saying we were acting unlawfully.”
“I am not saying we always get it right. But all too often over the last 12 months policing has been hung out to dry, and my colleagues are feeling very vulnerable.”
The National Chair also repeated his call for police officers and other frontline workers to be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine.
He said: “I strongly believe that police officers and frontline police staff should have been prioritised for the vaccine. I have raised it formally with the Home Secretary and the government and we feel bitterly, bitterly let down.”
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, also appeared on the programme and responded to the Chair’s comments on the need for clarity on lockdown laws and regulations. She responded: “When it comes to the guidance for police officers, we work with the National Police Chief’s Council... we work with them on everything when it comes to police.”
When challenged by BBC Presenter Sally Nugent on Mr Apter’s continued call for vaccines for officers, the Home Secretary said: “Officers are being vaccinated. It's wrong to suggest they are not. Across the country we are seeing that.” She also added that responsibility for vaccinating police officers, rests with ‘local NHS at a local level.’
Watch the interviews below