The police service is coming under increased pressure from the public and the media as lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
The reopening of pubs and restaurants while coronavirus is still in the population presents a challenge to officers, according to West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth.
Brian said people’s behaviour changes when alcohol is involved, which can lead to more violence, street disorder, sexual assaults and injured people who may need medical assistance.
He said: “All of these impose significant strain on policing and our colleagues in the NHS.
“I have seen the effect of fast-food drive-through outlets in West Yorkshire opening, and some of the public behaviour that followed.
“Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, local A&Es on Friday and Saturday nights were at times akin to a circus full of drunken clowns. We do not need this once again.
“It is known that alcohol lowers inhibitions and I truly hope the vast majority of the public maintain their common sense, remembering we are still living under the cloud of Covid.”
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police officers have been equipped with appropriate PPE to police Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests.
Brian said: “Our local Chief Officers take my colleagues’ safety seriously and they have made it clear that they will not put officer safety below public perception.
“They have equipped officers with PPE and expect them to use it in public order situations.”
Brian agreed with PFEW Chair John Apter that protests should be banned during the pandemic, but said it was impossible to arrest and prosecute thousands of people – regardless of what laws were in place.
He added that police officers “feel they cannot do right for wrong” while dealing with public order.
He said: “One minute we’re being compared to Nazis for handing out tickets for Covid breaches, the next we’re told we’re being too soft not preventing those committing damage to public statues.
“Are we surprised that our service is punch drunk and feel they cannot do right for wrong? This has a big impact on officers and no doubt their fatigue levels.”
Brain said that it was vital that officers get adequate rest, but a recent national police wellbeing survey by Oscar Kilo and the College of Policing revealed that 45% of officers and staff said they frequently got fewer than six hours’ sleep.
Brian concluded: “Each officer should consider turning off all work-related contact when not at work.
“But this is so difficult when we currently live in a pressure pot and social media and news streams are constantly talking about policing.”
Date posted: June 27, 2020