“Policing is one of the very few occupations not looking forward to the great unlocking…”
13 July 2021
Andy Symonds, Chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, has given his reaction to England lockdown rules coming to end on 19 July.
Nightclubs will also be allowed to reopen for the first time since March 2020 and capacity limits will be removed for all venues and events.
There will no longer be any limits on how many people can meet and the 1m-plus distancing rule will be removed.
Andy said: “Police officers will probably be in one of the very few occupations that is not looking forward to the 19th July due to the inevitable strong flow of demand that will follow and land onto the door step of police officers to deal.
“Officers are already seeing pre Covid levels of demand and on occasion already in recent weeks we’ve seen days in which are busier than demand on New Year’s Eve. This is extremely concerning as it’s my members here in Norfolk that it will directly impact on both physically and mentally.
“We have a large number of young in service officers who will require time to mature and gain experience. We’ve just policed the Euros, provided officers to G7 and will be later this year to COP26. We have summer holidays fast approaching which will place a huge strain on policing.
“It’s ok for the Government to tell us they are recruiting an extra 20,000 police officers but this will only take us back to 2009/10 levels. These officers take a minimum of 2 years to become substantive officers. Nationally we have seen police staff roles which support the back office function within forces reduced from 95,416 posts including PCSO's back in March 2010 to 83,687 in Sept 2020. Yes we've seen these numbers increase over the last couple of years. But this is still 11,729 less than the police service nationally has in 2010.
Thankfully in Norfolk the force have seen an increase of 137 police staff posts in the last couple of years.
“With the huge processing demands placed upon them from the Attorney General guidelines on 3rd party material and redaction. This means police officers are now completing tasks many of them purely administrative which were once completed by police staff colleagues. Officers are under serious pressures from attending incidents they are constantly deployed to, trying to investigate an ever growing caseload of crimes.
“I’ve seen officers spend hours upon hours behind a desk redacting a file which in reality will probably not go anywhere as CPS won’t run it.”
Speaking at the Press Conference in Downing Street yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the public "don't tear the pants out of" the unlocking.
He added: "Don't be demob happy about this - this is not the end of Covid. It requires constant vigilance...you should not have a jubilee."
Andy concluded: “My clear message is that officers are stretched beyond breaking point and this means many will break and require the force and our support. I know the great majority of the public understand this but I don’t think Government actually do as they won’t even reward officers with a pay rise this year.”