Police should be briefed on Covid rule changes ahead of 'busy summer', says federation leader

Darren Harris, Suffolk Police Federation chair

Darren Harris said it is 'not acceptable' for police to have to rely on 'snippets' from the media ahead of rule changes - Credit: Jason Bye

Suffolk's Police Federation leader has called for forces to be briefed on changes to Covid regulations ahead of a busy summer for officers. 

Darren Harris, Suffolk Police Federation chairman, said it is "not acceptable" for forces to have to rely on information released to media days before rules change. 

With the rearranged European Football Championships and easing of lockdown restrictions, officers in the county have been warned to brace themselves for a demanding summer

Mr Harris said: "June is a very busy month for policing in Suffolk and across the UK, and we deserve to be able to plan and understand the possible demands after June 21.

"Relying on the snippets released to the press in the days preceding a regulation or guidance change is not acceptable.

"How does the government expect the police to keep the public safe if they do not equip them with the most recent and relevant laws and guidance?"

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Mr Harris' comments come after the national Police Federation chairman said officers' jobs were "made even harder" by the "ever-changing rules and regulations" during lockdown. 

John Apter said some officers went on duty hours after the law had changed with no detailed guidance.

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Speaking at the organisation's annual conference this week, he said: "For the past 15 months we have been required to police in a way that none of us ever expected to when we joined the job.

"We knew it was never going to be easy. But our job was made even harder by the ever-changing rules and regulations."

Home Secretary Priti Patel said those who contravened restrictions needed to face the consequences. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Priti Patel was at the Police Federation conference 2021 - Credit: Archant

Addressing Witham MP and home Secretary Priti Patel, who also attended the event, he said the rules were not always "crystal clear", adding: "We had officers going out on patrol literally hours after the new regulations were introduced.

"They had often received no detailed briefing because the laws had only just been passed, which meant they were often going out on patrol with no specific detail about what the change meant for policing.

"There was no discussion about how to deal with the new laws or the new guidance."

Mr Apter said that as a result officers made errors, and unfairly became the focus of blame for some members of the public.

He told delegates: "Despite our best efforts, there were some mistakes and that was inevitable given the circumstances and policing has never shied away from saying so. But my colleagues, who had been put in an impossible position, became the focus of blame.

"My colleagues, who were doing their very best, every single day, in the most difficult of circumstances, they became the focus of public anger and frustration."

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