Police officers are struggling in the face of Covid and constant negative headlines, the chair of West Mercia’s Police Federation has warned.
Sarah Cooper, who represents officers in Worcester as chair of West Mercia Police Federation, said the “ongoing pressures of policing the pandemic, a vocal minority criticising the police service and a barrage of negative headlines” was taking its toll on officers but has urged those to reach out for support if they are feeling the strain.
“Officers are telling me that they are struggling,” she said.
“Policing the pandemic has been incredibly challenging. Police officers have been on the frontline of the nation’s response, trying to uphold lockdown rules, which are often changed at short notice and without detailed guidance being given to forces, and carrying out their usual duties while putting their own health, and that of their families, on the line.
“They have been criticised for being too tough on people not complying with the rules but also condemned for not being hard enough.
“Whatever they do, they seem to be in the wrong. But, in actual fact, they are just trying to do their best in what have been unprecedented times.
“While it all too easy to just see the uniform, people seem to forget that behind that there is a human being who will also be juggling their own personal circumstances – perhaps they have been home-schooling their children, trying to care for elderly or vulnerable relatives or neighbours or they are trying to adjust to reduced household income because a partner has lost their job due to the pandemic.”
The chair of the West Mercia Police Federation urged officers that support was available to them if they needed it.
“Policing is a challenging role at the best of times but it really has been unbelievably tough for officers over the last 12 months,” she said.
“Those on the frontline were walking into the unknown at the start of this crisis but they did what they always do; they got on with the job, they adapted to the situation, they put their public service first.
“Let’s also not forget that they did all this at a time when the Government has refused to prioritise frontline officers as recipients of the life-saving vaccine.
“They are now feeling unappreciated, unvalued and unsupported. So I want them all to know that I, and many, many others, do appreciate the extraordinary work they do.
“I want officers to know they are valued and there is support available. Just contact the federation officials or your workplace representatives.
“Sharing your concerns can be the first step to dealing with any issues you are facing.”