Officers are 'society's punchbags' due to changing Covid laws, says Police Federation chair

13 May 2021, 22:36

By Fiona Jones

Police Federation chair John Apter told LBC's Iain Dale that officers have become 'society's punchbag' due to the Government's ever-changing Covid legislation.

Attacks on police in London have risen by a staggering 40% the coronavirus lockdown, statistics have shown.

Met Police 2020 figures showed 2,027 assaults on officers were recorded between May and July, a 38% increase compared with the same period in the previous year.

Police Federation chair John Apter reflected on the months of lockdown: "Policing has been turned upside down.

"I remember when the legislation was being changed early last year and we were there talking with Home Office officials and my colleagues about what it meant. It was a state of disbelief, we couldn't believe the laws that were being brought in to try and combat this virus."

Read more: Man who hit police officer with pole in 'terrifying' attack jailed

He continued that as time moved on and the legislation "kept changing", citing over 70 changes, "my colleagues would often go on shift not knowing that the law had been changed because they hadn't received the guidance.

"Then they'd do what they felt was right trying to keep people safe but either mistakes were made or there was a genuine confusion of the problem as to what was expected of them."

He continued, "My colleagues were being vilified in the media, they became the punchbags for society, both physically and figuratively speaking. It's been incredibly tough.

"My colleagues are human beings - they have a uniform, they work hard, but it doesn't prevent them from catching this horrible virus. We've lost 30 officers of staff in policing to this horrible virus."

Mr Apter told Iain that some police officers have been struck down with the virus and are still suffering with Long Covid and there is no insight into the outcome which is "very concerning."

Scotland Yard had said the rise was partly driven by a series of high-profile protests and unlicensed music events.