The latest set of anti-COVID measures have placed a ‘significant’ burden on Gloucestershire Police officers and has put them in an almost ‘impossible’ position.
Gloucestershire Police Federation said the details of the rules and regulations for lockdown 3 are different from previous measures and stretch to 50,000 words, all of which have to be remembered and applied by officers.
“The Government has implemented yet another set of lockdown regulations, that again are different from all previous regulations and again were landed on the police service with virtually no warning,” Gloucestershire Police Federation Chairman Steve James said.
“A return to lockdown has placed a significant burden on people across all sectors of society, and yet again a further burden on all already stretched police forces.
“This is in places complex legislation, at times stretching to 50,000 words, that police officers have had to digest and learn to apply, literally overnight.
“This is an impossible situation to place officers in, and the public and media should not be in any way surprised when that is applied differently across the country.”
Steve added: “The anti-police rhetoric is seeking to make unsupportive and at times, inflammatory examples of one or two incidents, when there are thousands of supportive COVID-related interactions between the police and public daily.
“The regulations have been put in place to help save lives by restricting people’s movements and hindering the spread of this virus. One of the primary duties of the police is to save life and prevent harm. There should not be surprised when officers, therefore, look to enforce legislation that is designed to do exactly that.
“This isn’t the police looking to ‘clamp down on freedoms’ or ‘revelling in new powers’, and certainly no-one is ‘living in a police state’.
“Believe me, there is not a single police officer I know who wants to be in a position to have to use these powers, and we will all more than happily hand them back when this pandemic subsides.
“But we do want to keep people safe, and as long as there are those who put public health at risk by flaunting these regulations, then I will happily support officers who enforce the regulations against those individuals.”
The Federation is backing national calls to get police officers a place in the vaccination queue as the Government has so far not given any indication of when they might expect to get the crucial jab.
“Whilst our officers are out there keeping the public safe, we also want to keep our officers safe and help them to be able to keep doing their jobs,” Steve said.
“This is why the Federation has been pressing for the prioritisation for COVID vaccine for officers. This isn’t about leapfrogging vulnerable groups such as the elderly, but it’s about recognising the risk that officers are being faced with on a daily basis.”
Officers mix and deal with the public every day, meaning they are very much at the forefront of the pandemic and deserve protection, Steve added.
“All we’re asking is some protection for officers from the worst effects of the virus.
“The increased infection rate that is being seen nationally is also being seen in police forces, and there is a very real risk that the increasing absence of police officers with either illness or in isolation could begin to impact on the service we provide to our communities and our ability to keep people safe,” he said.
“Therefore, we continue to ask for the Government to prioritise vaccinations for police officers.”