Most Norfolk Police officers say Covid-19 negatively impacted morale
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on police in Norfolk has been laid bare in a major survey with more than 70pc of officers from the county stating it has had a negative affect on morale.
The Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector across England and Wales, has published the results of its annual Pay and Morale study.
The survey found that of the 376 respondents from Norfolk Constabulary 72 pc, more than 250, felt Covid-19 had a "negative or very negative" impact on morale this year.
Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in the county, said: "We, as a community here in Norfolk have all been dealing with impacts of Covid-19 on our lives both professionally and family.
"However officers have had a unique role in their professional lives which has meant they’ve had added pressures and strains.
"Officers have been on the frontline of this pandemic since it started in March this year. For the last nine months officers have worked tirelessly to combat the scourge of Covid-19, which include policing protests and illegal raves.
"But we can’t forget that even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, officers have continued policing the entire array of work that the police have to deal with."
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Mr Symonds said officers, both locally and nationally have also had to endure a 21pc rise in assaults in the first three months of the pandemic.
He said: "These assaults are committed by people who have weaponised coronavirus by threatening they have the virus and in some cases they have had the virus when they’ve spat directly at and into officers' faces.
"My colleagues are human beings that happen to wear a uniform and are out there protecting our communities from this virus and crime. They worry that they will take this deadly and horrible virus back to their loved ones."
Mr Symonds said his colleagues had done an "outstanding job in the most challenging of circumstances" and would be working with the chief constable to find ways to protect and support them.
Asked whether they had sufficient training on the coronavirus crisis, 26pc said no, while 42pc said they did not have adequate access to personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed.
A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "The safety of officers has always been our number one priority throughout this crisis and continues to be so. In the early stages of this pandemic we faced some challenges with PPE provision, which was a national issue and not one unique to Norfolk/Suffolk.
“However, our teams worked tirelessly to ensure officers had a steady supply of stock. We must make sure our workforce is protected, so we can do our job of protecting the public. PPE is essential in achieving this, as is the guidance which we’ve always fully complied with.
“We have secured sufficient supplies of PPE and have provided clear guidance on what officers should be wearing and when, with 86% (Norfolk) /89% (Suffolk) of officers in this survey saying our messaging has been effective.”