Concern in South Yorkshire over Covid used as weapon against police officers
Concern has been expressed in South Yorkshire over Covid being used as a weapon against police officers.
One in four officers who took part in a Police Federation of England and Wales welfare survey said they had contracted Covid-19 during the pandemic and almost half of those believed it was through ‘work-related activities’.
Almost one in three – 32 per cent – reported that they had been subjected to threats by members of the public believed to have been carrying the virus to deliberately breathe or cough on them.
Nearly a quarter – 24 per cent – said the threats had been carried through.
Steve Kent, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: “These figures sadly highlight what we know and have been saying. There has been an unacceptable rise in assaults on officers since the pandemic began.
“I have been concerned that officers are becoming the punchbag for society’s frustration and this in many ways proves it. Our officers are human as well and have families to go home to.
“While others in the NHS are rightly treated as heroes, our police officers – who are at the frontline of this pandemic as well – are being spat at and assaulted.
“To add insult to injury, the Government is still not giving us a timeline as to when our officers are to receive the vaccine. It’s not good enough to ignore the people who society frequently relies on the most, and officers are angry and frustrated at these delays.”
The Police Federation is lobbying for police officers to be seen as a priority group for vaccination.
Other findings from the survey suggested police officers had struggled with their workload and mental health over the past year, with 77 per cent of respondents indicating that psychological difficulties had been caused, or made worse, by working in the policing sector.
Over half said they had been the victim of an unarmed physical attack over the previous 12 months, and 53 per cent said they had found it difficult to carry out their duties because they were so fatigued.