Calls for South Yorkshire Police officers to have full protective kit at protests after cop is slashed

Calls have been made for all South Yorkshire Police officers to wear full protective kits when dealing with violent protests.

Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 7:04 am

It comes after a police officer was slashed across his face after coming under attack from protestors at Manchester United’s’ Old Trafford football stadium.

The officer injured earlier this month suffered ‘life-changing injuries’ and narrowly avoided losing the sight in his eye.

South Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said ‘situations can turn hostile in an instant’.

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Steve Kent, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation

Chairman Steve Kent said: “We have to stop worrying about perception and concentrate on protecting our officers. They have the kit – or at least should have – so they should be wearing it.

“In the past I have heard of too many occasions where officers have not been in full public order PPE, the situation has changed so quickly that they haven’t had time to go and get their kit on, and we are left with officers in very vulnerable positions.

“The recent examples of London and Old Trafford highlight this perfectly and show that situations can turn hostile in an instant. It might not be popular in the warm weather, however officers have to be in their kit from minute one when dealing with protests or potential public order situations to make sure they are as safe as possible.”

Stu Berry, Chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: “We are witnessing colleagues come under relentless attack wearing not much more than a flat cap and a high-vis jacket and with a baton to keep themselves safe.

“Our officers must be properly protected and appropriately equipped with public order gear – including helmets and shields – when policing these protestors.

“This will in no way be the last demonstration UK police officers have to encounter as the nation unlocks, and our courageous colleagues are bearing the brunt of public frustration. They must have the appropriate kit available to protect themselves.

“Officers are not – and never will be – punchbags for people protesting for their cause. We have seen too many images of police officers at protests over recent weeks with blood gushing from their faces

“How many more do we have to see? How badly does a police officer have to be injured before we do something?”

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