The secretary of Dyfed Powys Police Federation says the rise in Covid cases across the UK was the latest real-world issue to hit officers’ morale.
Roger Webb said morale was at “an all-time low” as officers feel the impact of the cost of living crisis and a fresh wave of Covid infections threatens to have an impact on police services.
Sir Frank Atherton, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, this week reminded people to follow simple steps to protect themselves from the risk of catching the virus.
And Roger said: “It’s a concern to our members that cases are on the rise. The nature of our job means we have to be out there with the public and can’t limit our contact with others – and we still face the threat of it being used as a weapon by people spitting on us.
“And as cases rise it’s going to have an impact on our already overstretched members with more demanded of them to maintain the level of service the public expect.
“It’s another real-world issue that threatens to impact the morale of officers, which already is at an all-time low.
“Last year’s pay and morale survey found 89 per cent of officers felt morale in the Force was low – and that was before the current cost of living crisis.
“They’ve endured a real-terms pay cut of 20 per cent since 2010 and it’s hitting officers hard. They need the Government to step in now with a substantial pay rise for the first time in more than a decade that will go some way to easing the pressures and improving morale.”
Steve Hartshorn has warned of a looming Summer of Discontent
Steve Hartshorn, the national chair, said with Covid cases rising it was “a worrisome period” for officers.
He said: “Our members are presently going through a ‘Summer of Discontent’. The cost of living is going through the roof, police officers’ pay and work conditions are abysmal and we are staring at another surge in Covid-19 infections, which will have a cascading effect on our work commitments.
“Police officers have endured a blanket pay freeze for two years and a 20 per cent real terms pay cut set against inflation since 2010. They continue to perform their duties to serve and protect the public, but they are not immune to financial pressures. Asking officers to risk their lives but at the same time, feed their families from foodbanks is simply not on.
“The police and the public want the Government to succeed in delivering their key manifesto commitment of 20,000 new officers, but it is doomed to fail at the level of current salaries.”
National deputy chair Tiff Lynch added: “We have to learn to live with Covid-19. Because of the nature of our work, we cannot close the doors on our duties. Chief constables must be held to account for the wellbeing of their force. They must rise to the situation and be more sensitive towards our members.”