Police Federation boss calls out "abhorrent" treatment of police by UK media

10 May 2020, 10:19

By Seán Hickey

The police are trying their best to be courteous with the public in enforcing lockdown rules but the public don't always show the same respect.

Ken Marsh is the chair of the Met Police Federation and he joined Andrew Castle to discuss the police reaction to lockdown rules.

Andrew addressed the stories of members of the public treating the police in the lowest regard while they try to enforce lockdown rules, mentioning cases of spitting, coughing and biting the officers. "You wonder how prevalent they are" he wondered.

Mr Marsh added that it is not only some members of the public that have treated the police horribly, "I've been dismayed at some of the press trying to catch cops" breaking the rules they should be enforcing.

He said that it is only isolated cased where there have been issues of abusing the police but insisted that such treatment is still appalling "it is abhorrent."

Andrew pointed out that "it's first contact" with authority when the police speak to the public and called for a "willingness to be courteous on both sides." Mr Marsh insisted that the police have "been so compliant in trying to get the public to understand."

The Met federation chair addressed isolated incidents of the public attacking the police for enforcing lockdown rules
The Met federation chair addressed isolated incidents of the public attacking the police for enforcing lockdown rules. Picture: PA

Ken Marsh admitted the complications of enforcing rules that have been vague from the beginning. Mr Marsh said to Andrew "if we're struggling to understand what is allowed then what does the public think."

He added that the rules once understood are simple, saying "the rules are the same now as when they were first put in place, if you spoke to the public I don't think they understand that." Andrew agreed, suggesting to the federation chair that "the rules have been forgotten" in the weeks and months after lockdown began.

Andrew asked Mr Marsh if the flouting of lockdown rules can be blamed on young people. The Met official stated that "there is a belief that it isn't going to happen to me so why bother" and suggested that he didn't think young people had been directly addressed in the lockdown regulations and so they don't think the rules apply to them.

Thinking ahead to the difficulties post lockdown, Andrew imagined a rise in unemployment which could lead to civil unrest and wondered if the Met were prepared for such difficulties. Mr Marsh ensured Andrew that "we'll be there for the public as we always are and hopefully they'll work with us."

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