A police chief says recent criticisms of officers have taken a toll on their mental health and made them feel like “society’s punching bag.”
Officers were in the line of fire after violent scenes broke out at the vigil for the murdered Sarah Everard, while hundreds took part in Kill The Bill protests in Bristol, where several police officers were injured and vehicles set on fire.
Calls for the resignation of Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick quickly followed the clashes in Clapham Common, where Sarah, 33, was reported missing earlier this year, as the scale of demonstrations against police, crime, criminal prosecution and courts shows growing concern police powers.
Now Hampshire Police Federation chairman Zoe Wakefield has warned of the impact of the criticism on the welfare of serving officers.
Officers were in the line of fire after violent scenes broke out during the vigil for murdered Sarah Everard
Hundreds took part in Kill The Bill protests in Bristol, where several police officers were injured and vehicles set on fire
“ It has certainly been a rough time, and I think for the first few days, especially after the Clapham Common protest, agents felt very down, just feeling like they were constantly being kicked out by the media, ” she said.
‘Then when you have MPs participating, it feels like we’re damned if we do that, damned if we don’t.
The feeling is that we are the punching bag of society and not having the support of MPs is really painful, especially when they pass judgment on a short video clip posted on social media before the full facts are out.
As the days progressed after Clapham Common, more came out about what had really happened, and there was a little bit of change.
‘We then saw some positive comments from MPs and then, of course, after the protests in Bristol, the Home Secretary spoke of’ violence ‘.
Now Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Zoe Wakefield has warned of the impact of the criticism on the welfare of serving officers
So that’s more positive, but it doesn’t have to get to the point where I think up to 40 officers are now injured and police vans are being set on fire so that MPs realize this is not acceptable.
‘When they pass judgment on social media with tens of thousands of followers, the majority of the public listens to MPs, they listen to their opinion, so it has a huge ripple effect.
The vigil should have been all about Sarah. What will people remember about this now?
“Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be Sarah.”
Dame Cressida defended her officers against what many called heavy-handed tactics during the vigil, saying they had faced “extreme provocation.”
A total of 29 people have now been arrested in connection with the riot – which followed a peaceful protest against the police, crime, conviction and courts.
The police watchdog cleared its agents of misconduct this week, as the commissioner described the police at the event as “extremely professional and calm” and added, “People need to learn that the police have a very difficult job.”
Dame Cressida also slammed politicians who criticized the Met’s tactics that night “ without knowing the facts, ” just hours after the watchdog’s report rebuked London mayor Sadiq Khan for his criticism of the arrests.
It came after a peaceful rally against police, crime, conviction and courts – which would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests – that went into anarchy on March 21.
Police vans were set on fire and Bridewell Police Station in town was besieged in ugly scenes, resulting in a number of arrests and injuries.
It came after riots broke out after a peaceful protest against the police, crime, criminal prosecution and courts last month – in which crowds took part amid concerns about increased authority for officers.
The proposed police, crime, conviction and courts bill would give more power to the police in England and Wales to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including protests deemed too noisy or disruptive, subjecting convicts to fines or imprisonment. .
The latest arrest comes as agents continue to investigate attacks on 40 agents and a member of the media in the riot.
During the ugly scenes, police officers were injured, forced vehicles were set on fire, and the windows of a police station were smashed.
An officer later described on the radio for the first time how colleagues were injured outside Bridewell Police Station.
Since the first rally, there have been three other protests in the city against the government’s proposed bill on police, crime, conviction and courts.
The protests on March 23 and 26 resulted in clashes between police and protesters.
Another demonstration on March 30 proceeded peacefully.