Officers have acted proportionately and in the finest traditions of the police service during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the deputy presiding officer of the Welsh Parliament.
Ann Jones, the Member of the Senedd (MS) for the Vale of Clwyd, also praised officers for putting the needs of others above their own while serving and protecting their communities.
Having worked in fire control rooms for nearly 30 years, the former national official with the Fire Brigades Union said she understood the pressures officers and their families were under.
“Enforcing non-essential travel rules has been a vital part of police officers’ duties for the small number of people who feel able to disregard the safety of others,” said Ms Jones.
“All such encounters carry increased risk and officers have not shied away from putting the needs of others at the forefront of their actions. It would be extraordinary if such a rapid and drastic change to policing saw no teething problems.
“Despite the attempts of some of the media to portray the police in a negative light, I believe that officers have acted proportionately and in the finest traditions of the service. Because of this, the police retain the overwhelming support of the public.
“Unlike England, the lockdown continues here in Wales with the Welsh Government recently increasing the limit on fixed penalty fines to help officers better enforce the Welsh regulations.
“As a former emergency service employee, I know the impact of these challenging times will not just be felt by police officers and support staff but also their families. Many officers will be separated from family who may be self-isolating.
“My gratitude, and that of the public at large, is extended to police officers and staff who continue to keep us safe during these unprecedented times.”
The MS, writing before the Welsh Government announced a move towards easing some restrictions, acknowledged that the pandemic had brought a ‘seismic shift’ in the way people live and work and said officers had very quickly responded to an unprecedented situation that meant they had to explain the reasons for the lockdown, encourage people to follow the guidelines and, where necessary, enforce strict limitations on movement and freedom of assembly in an effort to protect public health.
Roger Webb, secretary of Dyfed Powys Police Federation, has welcomed the comments.
“It is good to see a politician voicing their support for police officers and recognising the pressures they, and their families, have been under during this crisis,” he explained, “Police officers have been on the front-line serving their communities as you would expect but they have worried about being exposed to the coronavirus and then passing it on to their loved ones.
“Despite these concerns, they have remained committed to protecting the public and will appreciate Ann Jones’ comments.”