Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has warned that rising cases of Covid could have an impact on policing.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that one in 30 people in England had Covid in the week ending June 25 – a rise of more than 30 per cent on the previous week.
Liz said: “Covid hasn’t gone away and we’re currently experiencing a surge in infections that could impact on policing.
“The nature of the job means that police officers are in regular contact with people and can be exposed to the virus – and that’s without it being weaponised against us by people spitting at us.
“The more officers we have who do become ill with Covid means that we’re demanding more of our already overstretched colleagues or that the service is impacted.”
Liz said it was another worry to add to a growing list for members as she renewed calls for the Government to give officers a substantial pay rise.
“The current wave of Covid infections and the knock on effect to policing is a concern to members,” she said. “We know that from our recent survey that morale is already low due to poor pay and working conditions – and this won’t help.
“Our members have endured a real-terms pay cut of 20 per cent since 2010 and some are facing real hardship, which is battering their morale still further.
“The Government can take a giant step in improving that morale by giving our members a pay increase that reflects the cost of living for the first time in more than a decade.”
Steve Hartshorn, the national Federation chair, said with Covid cases rising it was “a worrisome period” for officers.
He said: “Our members are presently going through a ‘Summer of Discontent’. The cost of living is going through the roof, police officers’ pay and work conditions are abysmal and we are staring at another surge in Covid-19 infections, which will have a cascading effect on our work commitments.
“Police officers have endured a blanket pay freeze for two years and a 20 per cent real terms pay cut set against inflation since 2010. They continue to perform their duties to serve and protect the public, but they are not immune to financial pressures. Asking officers to risk their lives but at the same time, feed their families from foodbanks is simply not on.
“The police and the public want the Government to succeed in delivering their key manifesto commitment of 20,000 new officers, but it is doomed to fail at the level of current salaries.”
National deputy chair Tiff Lynch added: “We have to learn to live with Covid-19. Because of the nature of our work, we cannot close the doors on our duties. Chief constables must be held to account for the wellbeing of their force. They must rise to the situation and be more sensitive towards our members.”