THE establishment of a formal Police Covenant is a vital step that will help better protect police officers from assaults, Zoe Wakefield, Hampshire Federation Chair has said.
The Covenant, which will apply to serving and former police personnel, will create a statutory duty for forces to support police officers and places a requirement on the Home Secretary to report annually to Parliament. It will focus on officers’ protection, health and wellbeing, and support for their families.
The Covenant will see a doubling of sentences for assaults on emergency service workers, better protection for emergency drivers and Special Constables being allowed to join the Federation.
Zoe said: “This is really, really important work. Obviously the doubling of the sentences is great but we need to see that reflect in practice and those sentences are actually being imposed by the courts. Otherwise it’s just worthless and just written on a bit of paper.
“Better protection for emergency drivers is also so, so important. This began with a Hampshire case where one of our officers faced a Crown Court trial which fortunately he was acquitted from. But we witnessed first-hand everything that he went through, all down to the fact that the law doesn’t protect emergency drivers, so that’s really, really welcomed.
“And Special Constables are a part of the police family. They should be part of the Police Federation, so we’re really excited for them to join. We’ve already had meetings with our Special Constables here locally and as soon as it’s in we’ve already got some provisional plans in place as to how we can promote it locally to get all our Special Constables to join, and we’ve also hopefully sorted out the funding through the Police and Crime Commissioner as well.”
The Covenant is currently going through consultation process, but will eventually be enshrined in law, the Home Secretary confirmed in September.