PM praises officers for pandemic response

Boris Johnson has praised police officers across England and Wales for the incredible work carried out throughout the coronavirus crisis and vowed to give them his full support as the country starts to return to normal.

In a recorded video message played to open this year’s Police Federation of England and Wales annual conference, the Prime Minister issued a “huge thank you” to “our incredible police men and women” for the way they reacted to the unprecedented demands of the pandemic.

He said: “You’ve encouraged people to stick to the rules the same time as you’ve been fighting crime and you’ve each risen to an enormous challenge.

“Just as I could never have imagined being forced, as Prime Minister, to close pubs and bars and restaurants or tell people how many households could get together, I bet that policing restrictions in that way was not something you ever dreamt you would be doing.

“But you did it because you knew it was how we were going to protect the NHS and save lives.

“And now as we move closer to normality and get on with cracking down on crime, we want you to know that we are going to be backing you all the way, providing millions in funding to tackle serious violence and drugs gangs, giving you the manpower to get the job done.”

Mr Johnson said 8,771 new recruits had been signed up meaning the Government was 44 per cent of the way towards its target of 20,000 additional police officers by 2023.

He said the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give frontline officers powers to deal with disruptive protests, improve stop and search procedures, double maximum sentences for assaults on emergency workers and put violent and sexual offenders behind bars for longer.

The Prime Minister also vowed to deliver a new Policing Covenant to ensure officers and staff got the respect and support they deserved.

Mr Johnson told the conference: “You have shown over the past year just why British police are the best in the world, now we are going to make sure you have the tools you need to deal with criminals, make our streets safer, and get on with the job you signed up to do.”