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Norfolk Police Federation

Lockdown 3: Federation Chairman speaks out about challenges of policing the pandemic

16 January 2021

The Chairman of Norfolk Police Federation has highlighted how police officers are “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” while policing the third national lockdown.

Andy Symonds has spoken of the challenges and criticism officers face whilst playing their part in keeping the public safe from coronavirus.

And why his colleagues should be on a priority list for the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Andy said: “During this national lockdown police officers - as they have been since the beginning of this pandemic - have been putting themselves at risk in policing their communities. 

“Officers have been dealing with new laws introduced with guidance sometimes not forthcoming until weeks after the law on the statute book. 

“They have faced huge challenges in interpreting the law which in some aspects particularly around leaving your home for exercise is woolly, vague and extremely grey. 

“We have mixed messages from politicians which have left officers stuck in the middle trying to support our communities in balancing the enforcing of the laws, offering advice and guidance to the public to keep us all safe.

“Officers have been asked by Chief officers to step up our enforcement which I believe is the right call but along with this comes the negative stories we’ve all seen in media the news stories about officers issuing fixed penalty notices to people who have been found many miles away from their home address exercising. 

“Police officers are in a difficult position and we find that we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. 

“We see the negative stories towards police officers criticising our actions in being too heavy handed or too lenient. My colleagues are human beings who happen to wear a uniform who are putting themselves at risk to police this pandemic. 

“Sometimes we do get it wrong but we’re out there trying our best to protect everyone from the spread of this virus. What I’m calling for is the stubborn minority of people who continue to either break the law or are using the areas in which the law if woolly, vague and grey to place themselves and others at risk to stop and think about the thousands of people who have lost their lives to this terrible virus.

“While officers are out policing this pandemic they have been at risk. We have not been able to work from home to reduce the risk. We have been at work having to arrest people who don’t want to be arrested and therefore assault us and we’ve seen a rise in the abhorrent act of spitting at officers and threatening or actually have Covid-19. 

“We can’t police at 2 metres distance therefore we are at higher risk. Therefore its simply morally right for this Government to come forward with proposals on how they will vaccinate police officers to protect them and their families. In turn the police service can then continue to police and keep our communities safe.”