Police officers an “easy target” for media criticism when things go wrong

POLICE officers are an “easy target” for media criticism when things go wrong, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

Zoë Wakefield, Federation Chair, was speaking after the Police Federation of England and Wales hit out at the public criticism of the police that ensues whenever a tragic incident takes place.

John Apter, PFEW Chair, said: “It seems that no matter what happens within society, the finger of blame always leads itself towards policing, before the facts are known. Low numbers and a global pandemic mean that there is more pressure. Pressure on frontline officers, response policing, detectives and pressure on back office functions including departments like firearms licensing.

“The pressure is intolerable and leads to delays that are unavoidable despite our best efforts. This is the reality that policing is facing, while at the same time being held accountable for matters that sit firmly with other agencies. Policing is often the service of last resort and we can’t always say no, we can’t close our doors at 5pm on a Friday afternoon.

“We need to increase our numbers, officers and staff, above what is promised by the Government or we will continuously be chasing our tail, never being able to be fully proactive in dealing with the pressures we face. The lack of genuine investment in policing is putting the public at risk and that is something that no society should ever accept. My colleagues are committed to doing everything that we can to keep the public safe, but we need the help to do this.”

Zoë added: “We’re an easy target. It’s newsworthy to blame the police; it’s going to grab the headlines, and like we know, people read headlines but they don’t always read the detail below it. It is frustrating and it is damaging to morale.

“Friends of mine who aren’t police, will say to me, ‘What’s this then?’, because they’ve read the negative headline. But when you actually tell them the reality they say, ‘Oh, it didn’t say anything like that’. No, because the reality isn’t as newsworthy or as interesting as the sensational headline that may not be factually accurate.”

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