Norfolk police officers 'not looking forward to Covid unlocking'

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation.

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation. - Credit: MartisMedia

"Police officers will probably be in one of the very few occupations that are not looking forward to July 19."

Those are the words of Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds, who is concerned about "the inevitable strong flow of demand" he says will be placed on officers once restrictions relax.

Health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed in a speech to the House of Commons on Monday that the planned easing for next Monday will go ahead.

It means there will be no legal limits on how many people can meet indoors or outdoors, no social distancing requirements and no capacity limits for venues.

Mr Symonds said some of the federation's members have already reported seeing "days which are busier than demand on New Year's Eve" in recent weeks.

He said: "This is extremely concerning as it’s my members here in Norfolk that it will directly impact on both physically and mentally.

"We have a hugely inexperienced work force which will take time to mature and we’ve just policed the Euros, provided officers to G7 and will be later this year to COP26. We have summer holidays fast approaching which will place a huge strain on policing.

"We have seen police staff roles which support the back office function within forces completely stripped away. This means police officers are now completing tasks, many of them purely administrative, which were once completed by police staff colleagues.

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"Officers are under serious pressures from attending incidents they are constantly deployed to, trying to investigate an ever growing caseload of crimes."

Speaking at his Downing Street press conference on Monday, the prime minister asked people: "don't tear the pants out of [the July 19 unlocking].

"Don't be demob happy about this – this is not the end of Covid. It requires constant vigilance... you should not have a jubilee."

Mr Symonds added: "My clear message is that officers are stretched beyond breaking point and this means many will break and require the force's and our support.

"I know the great majority of the public understand this but I don’t think government actually do as they won’t even reward officers with a pay rise this year."