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Politicians Urged by PFEW to Prioritise Police Wellbeing

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Members of the newly formed Welsh Government are being urged to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of police officers in the wake of the pandemic.

The plea comes from Nicky Ryan, the Welsh Lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents the 7,500 constables, sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors in the four police forces in Wales.

“Police officers have been on the frontline of the nation’s response to the pandemic,” said Nicky,

“They have sought to help halt the spread of Covid-19 and protect the NHS, while serving the public and keeping their communities safe.

“In doing so they have put their health at risk and that of their families, particularly when you consider some mindless individuals have sought to weaponise Covid by spitting or coughing over officers while claiming to have the virus.

“But, in addition to carrying out their roles, they have also had the same pressures as other people. They have worried about the pandemic, had concerns about vulnerable family members and may have faced money worries due to a partner losing their job or being furloughed.

“This has all taken a toll and we know some police officers are struggling with their mental health, with exhaustion also playing a part. I would like to see politicians doing more to ensure police officers’ mental health and wellbeing is prioritised. We often hear them praising policing for their efforts, but we need to see actions behind those words.

“It was frustrating and disappointing after the first roll-out of the Covid vaccines, which quite rightly went to the elderly and the most vulnerable people in society, to find little support from politicians for emergency service workers to be given some priority, or at least be considered for spare vaccines which might have been wasted.”

Nicky has also called on politicians to work more closely with the Federation, as the Government seeks to navigate the country out of lockdown. During the pandemic, officers in England had to cope with around 60 pieces of legislation – in Wales it was closer to 90.

This, and the fact restrictions and guidelines were often changed at short notice with time barely given to issuing detailed guidance to officers, made policing incredibly difficult, especially when rules across the English border regularly differed.

“As lockdown restrictions are eased, my message to the newly formed Welsh Government is ‘work with us’. By including the Federation and other staff associations in your conversations, we can ensure any further new legislation is workable and clear, protects the public and prevents the spread of any further waves of this deadly virus.”

PFEW’s Welsh Lead is seeking meetings with politicians, chief officers, the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners for the Welsh forces and other stakeholders.

“Police officers have worked tirelessly through the pandemic, protecting others, often while risking their own health. They are often exposed to risks to their health and this is not always appreciated or acknowledged by Members of the Senedd,” said Nicky. “I would like to see a real commitment to Protecting the Protectors, in every sense of those words.”