Emergency strike cover adding to pressure on police

Overstretched police services should not be expected to provide emergency cover for string ambulance workers, according to Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair Gareth Jones.

Gareth’s comments came as about 1,000 paramedics, medical technicians and call handling staff staged another walk-out across Wales today (Monday 23 January).

He said: “We have every sympathy with our ambulance service colleagues and indeed with all public sector workers who are not being fairly paid or treated by their employers.

“Police officers also feel undervalued and taken for granted but we are not allowed to go on strike to improve our pay and conditions yet are still expected to step in when other emergency service personnel take industrial action.

“Police officers are overstretched as it is and it is unfair to add to their ever-increasing workloads in situations like this.” 

National Federation chair Steve Hartshorn told MPs that Police Federation members found it “galling” when told to fill the gaps during public sector strikes.

Steve Hartshorn spoke out about policing public sector strikes

He told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee: “I have received anecdotal accounts from our branch chairs and secretaries about members being asked to ferry victims to hospitals. 

“That takes away from their core function of being a police officer - to protect and detect crime.

“When they get to the hospital they are sat around for a long time, like the ambulances, and can be there in pairs for hours.”

Steve said police officers were also called upon to ensure public safety during industrial action.

He said: “If railway workers go on strike and you suddenly have large numbers of people at the train stations, that’s an extra burden on police officers to deal with their safety. 

“It is right to do that but again it takes away from our core function of responding to 999 calls and trying to be proactive in how we can deter crime from taking place in those very areas.

“It is disheartening for our members because, of course, they do not have the right to strike as Crown servants.”