Police ‘vilified’ because of Welsh Government ‘mixed messages’ on lockdown says Police Federation boss
The Chairman of the Police Federation says enforcing laws brought in under lockdown has become a “no-win” situation for officers due to “mixed messages” by governments in both Wales and England.
“We have repeatedly called on the English and Welsh governments to stop issuing mixed messages to avoid further confusion when lockdown measures are lifted,” John Apter said.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph he said that officers have been battling with the challenge of keeping up with “ever-changing Covid rules and legislation” and that as a result have been “abused, assaulted and vilified far too often”.
He pointed to Police Federation research showing that only one in 10 officers thought police powers introduced to manage the Covid-19 crisis were clear.
He said that the police response to protests had attracted considerable media and political comment, “some of it very hard, often unfair”, he said, with officers “damned by some when they intervene, and damned by others when they do not”.
“Despite the avalanche of unfair criticism my colleagues have faced this week, they will continue to be the first to arrive whenever these same critics call us for help,” he said.
His comments come as ‘Kill The Bill’ protests took place in Cardiff, Bangor and Wrexham on Saturday.
They were protesting against the UK Government’s police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, and police brutality.
There have also been three demonstrations in Cardiff, two in Wrexham and Swansea, and one in Bangor and in Newtown since the murder of Sarah Everard. PC Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with the murder and kidnap of Ms Everard.
Police in Wales were also criticised by campaigners demanding justice for Mohamud Hassan after arresting three who joined protests over his death at the beginning of the year.
Mr Hassan, 24, died in the evening of January 9, just hours after being released from police custody. He had been arrested at his home the previous day on suspicion of a breach of the peace and held overnight, before being freed without charge.
His death sparked several days of demonstrations outside Cardiff Bay police station. Black Lives Matter Cardiff and Vale told the Morning Star newspaper that people who attended those protests have since been arrested or threatened with arrest.
South Wales Police said in a statement that it had launched a “post-incident investigation” into criminal offences allegedly committed during the January protests.
Mr Hassan’s death is under investigation by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). Five police officers have been served a misconduct notice.