Gwent chair backs national Federation calls on officer vaccines

1 February 2021

Gwent Police Federation is supporting the national Federation chair’s repeated call for officers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after the results of the demand, capacity and welfare survey revealed the true extent of the impact of the virus on them.

The 2020 Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) survey, which forms part of the Federation submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body, was conducted towards the end of last year and was branded the most important of its kind. It attracted more than 12,000 results from the 43 Federation branches across England and Wales. 

There were 156 responses from Gwent Police, which equates to around 12 per cent, and of those 64 per cent were from constables, 21 per cent from sergeants, 11 per cent from inspectors and four per cent from chief inspectors.

Although 69 per cent of respondents reported that their overall health was good or very good, 78 per cent said they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last year.

The number of respondents who reported being single-crewed often or always was 67 per cent, with 18 per cent indicating they were single-crewed more often due to coronavirus. In addition, 60 per cent of those who completed the survey said there were not enough officers in their team or unit to do the job properly and 53 per cent said their workload is currently too high or much too high.

The chair of Gwent Police Federation, Steve Thorpe, said: “The survey makes fairly grim reading but that was to be expected. Policing is not easy under normal circumstances but policing the pandemic has put our officers under immense pressure.

“They are on the frontline, putting themselves at risk, working long hours to deal with a high workload while all the time adapting to changing regulations and trying to guide the public on those with the Four Es of policing.”

Other Gwent results from the survey showed 45 per cent of respondents said they were never or rarely able to take their full rest break entitlement, 29 per cent said their job was very or extremely stressful and 15 per cent said they had suffered one or more injury requiring medical attention as a result of work-related violence.

The results for Gwent also revealed 37 per cent of respondents said they did not have adequate equipment to protect them from Covid-19 while at work and 25 per cent said they were very or extremely worried about the impact that the pandemic will have on them personally.

Nationally, the survey showed 26 per cent of respondents believed they had contracted Covid-19, with almost half (45 per cent) believing they contracted it through work-related activities.

PFEW national chair John Apter, said: “The results of this survey have come directly from our members – those police officers who are on the frontline dealing with whatever society throws at them. It clearly shows the huge pressure officers are under policing the pandemic and the negative impact on their welfare, with half of respondents saying they have been physically attacked and one in three having been spat at by someone claiming to have the virus.

“As well as having an incredibly challenging and demanding job and all the pressures that go with it, police officers are also human beings with the same stresses as everyone else. This survey shows the harsh reality of policing during a period when police officers have simply done the best they could to help and protect the public.

“Yet the increasing level of violence they face, especially involving the weaponising of the virus, is a sad indictment of the society we live in. Government must hear them; they must be given all the protection they need to protect themselves and this includes being prioritised for the vaccine.”

The demand, capacity and welfare survey is a biennial survey that was set up in 2016 in response to unprecedented budgetary cuts and a 14 per cent fall in officer numbers over a seven-year period.

Read the full survey report for Gwent.