Norfolk Police Federation issues warning over lifting of Covid restrictions
The body which represents rank and file Norfolk police officers has warned they are already struggling to meet demand, even before remaining coronavirus restrictions are lifted next week.
Officials from the county's Police Federation say they are already having days "busier than New Year's Eve" as the economy re-opens following the pandemic.
And they fear their members will bear the brunt of the changes.
It was confirmed yesterday that the remaining legal Covid restrictions will be lifted from next Monday, July 19.
That means unlimited numbers can gather in indoor settings, masks and social distancing will no longer be legal requirements and nightclubs will be able to open for the first time since March last year.
But Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds said that is likely to make the challenges faced by his members even more acute.
He said today: “Police officers will probably be in one of the very few occupations that are not looking forward to the 19th July due to the inevitable strong flow of demand that will follow.
“Officers are already seeing pre Covid levels of demand and on many occasions already in recent weeks we’ve seen days in which are busier than demand on New Year’s Eve.
“It’s my members here in Norfolk that it will directly impact on both physically and mentally.”
Despite the lifting of legal restrictions, the Government has said people will be "expected" to continue wearing masks in crowded indoor settings.
Venues are also being recommended to impose entry conditions on vaccination or recent negative testing, though these will not be formal requirements.
During yesterday's Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was still a need for "constant vigilance" against Covid and people "should not have a jubilee."
But Mr Symonds claims ministers have shown a lack of understanding for the challenges faced by police.
He said the loss of police staff meant officers were dealing with even greater pressures because of new case preparation guidelines.
He added: "Officers are stretched beyond breaking point and this means many will break and require the force and our support.
"I know the great majority of the public understand this but I don’t think Government actually do as they won’t even reward officers with a pay rise this year."