Covid surge could put more pressure on policing

Gwent Police Federation chair Christopher Back says the latest wave of Covid-19 infections could put additional pressure on police services.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that one in 30 people had Covid in the week ending June 25 – a rise of more than 30 per cent on the previous week. 

Christopher said officers were already overstretched and a spike in cases could further undermine morale in the Force, which has been hit by a decade without a pay rise and the cost of living.

Now he’s urging the Government to show their backing for policing by giving officers a meaningful pay rise, which he says will go some way to lifting morale heading into the next wave of coronavirus.

He said: “It looks we’re in for a bumpy ride over the coming weeks and months as Covid cases rise. 

“Officers are not immune to catching it, which is likely to put pressure on our ability to serve the public and place additional demands on our members. 

“Their morale has already taken a pummelling over the last decade and during this cost of living crisis as they’ve seen their wages fall by 20 per cent in real terms, and there’s the danger it will be hit further by this next wave of coronavirus.

“The Government can take a big step in helping officers through a difficult summer with a substantial pay rise which would help to ease financial pressures.

“We urge them to do it, and to do it now,” he added.

Steve Hartshorn, the national Federation chair, said with Covid cases rising it was “a worrisome period” for officers.

He said: “Our members are presently going through a summer of discontent. The cost of living is going through the roof, police officers’ pay and work conditions are abysmal and we are staring at another surge in Covid-19 infections, which will have a cascading effect on our work commitments.

“Police officers have endured a blanket pay freeze for two years and a 20 per cent real terms pay cut set against inflation since 2010. They continue to perform their duties to serve and protect the public, but they are not immune to financial pressures. Asking officers to risk their lives but at the same time, feed their families from foodbanks is simply not on.

“The police and the public want the Government to succeed in delivering their key manifesto commitment of 20,000 new officers, but it is doomed to fail at the level of current salaries.”

National deputy chair Tiff Lynch added: “We have to learn to live with Covid-19. Because of the nature of our work, we cannot close the doors on our duties. Chief constables must be held to account for the wellbeing of their force. They must rise to the situation and be more sensitive towards our members.”