The first virtual Police Federation annual national conference began today (9 June) with more than 1,100 delegates listening to keynote speeches from national chair, John Apter, and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
‘Policing Under Pressure’ is the theme of conference 2021 which John said was an appropriate description of the last 15 months of policing a pandemic.
“Policing under pressure is exactly what my colleagues have been doing and continue to do every single day. This past year has been one of the most challenging and most extraordinary for us all in recent history,” he said.
He told the Home Secretary, in his address, that officers’ work had been made more difficult by ever-changing and unclear rules and guidelines and that it was ‘grossly unfair’ that the police had been labelled as the villains of the pandemic.
John also described those who used the virus as a threat against officers as “vile”, telling those responsible, “You disgust me. You completely disgust me. And I know you disgust every decent, law-abiding person.”
He again challenged the Home Secretary on the lack of prioritisation of police officers in the vaccination programme, citing the policing of the G7 Summit in Cornwall by unvaccinated officers as an example of a ‘failing we can never forget’.
And he asked Ms Patel for her support to combat continued social media vilification of the police, recruitment and retention, and the Police Covenant. He also paid tribute to fallen officers over the last year.
The Home Secretary spoke of her ‘open and honest’ relationship with the national chair but responded to him by defending the vaccination programme. She repeated that she fully supported the police and its Federation and that she had acted accordingly.
She said: “On behalf of the whole country, thank you for still being there for us during one of the toughest moments in our country’s history. You have done it superbly well and courageously.”