23 December 2021
Christmas and New Year message from Phil Matthews, Chair of Wiltshire Police Federation
I wanted to take a little time firstly to thank every one of you that voted in the recent election for the Chair. It means so much to me that you took the time to show your confidence in me and for that I am so grateful. In such a short time in office, it’s time for me to reflect on the year we have had in Wiltshire Police.
It’s no small matter that we have been policing through this pandemic and coming out of lockdown, the vaccinations and looking forward to some normality. The word “unprecedented” has been included in most emails.
In 20 years of policing, I would confidently say these are some of the most trying times for police officers I have ever witnessed. There is so much pressure on a younger workforce than I have ever seen. As we reach the end of the year, we are thinking about that normality again when the scare of the Omicron variant arrives
At the time of writing this, the infection rates are increasing too quickly to keep abreast of. It remains to be seen if any more restrictions are to be introduced. Of course there is no working from home for the majority of police officers.
Changes to our shifts are becoming so regular. We have managed through G7 and COP26, neither of which went as smoothly as it should for so many of you.
We see our new recruits already covering such a large percentage of our response teams. You have so much pressure with the new degree apprenticeship programmes.
It’s fair to say the press have been pretty brutal to police during 2021 but we must be realistic that some of this coverage is deserved.
All of the above could very easily sound so negative but let me point out what I have seen out of this.
I have seen teams of cops looking out for each other. Officers tired and weary but smiling and laughing and getting each other through these difficult times. There have been successes like Harper’s Law that came from such tragic circumstances.
What this pandemic has done to policing is to show us that our families, both at home and at work, are so important. We have never needed each other more than we do now. I see the dedication of officers in all departments working so hard to still attend those calls despite the risks of infection. To still protect the vulnerable adults, children and young women. I see the strategies to protect those who need us most still being written up and put in to place. These are all being done by you.
You are the reason our county is one of the safest.
I have seen our young officers working so hard to achieve the scores they need and doing so well at it. While the press have been harsh, I can promise you that letters still come in from the people we serve offering thanks for what we are doing. I truly believe the majority of our public support us and what we do.
In the next year I will do all I can to support your efforts, I will relay your messages to the force and make sure our leaders understand how you are truly feeling and what work is taxing you. I will work with the force to try and relieve some of these pressures on you all.
I ask of you, look out for each other. If someone is snappy or stressed, try to stop and think why that may be. Try and support each other and not get upset with each other. We are all working for the same goal. Talk to each other and listen to your colleagues and friends. Use the support available to you. Our job is so very stressful, we need to help each other.
The Police federation will continue to support you in the best way we can and I thank you all so very much for all you have done this year.
I wish you a very merry Christmas and hope you get some time with your families or friends over this festive period.