Rank-and-file police officers are “barely” coping as they face the busiest summer since the Olympics, a federation leader has warned.
Forces across the UK are under increased pressure, with England World Cup games, the visit by US President Donald Trump and the massive counter-terrorism investigation after the latest Novichok poisoning in Wiltshire.
Bosses will be planning a beefed up police presence when the national team plays Croatia on Wednesday, following a handful of obnoxious scenes after England’s victory against Sweden on Saturday, including a London Ambulance emergency response car being smashed up near London Bridge.
When asked if rank-and-file officers were coping with the pressure, Simon Kempton, deputy treasurer of the Police Federation, said: “They are, but barely.
“This summer is busier than any summer since the Olympics because of the confluence of various things – the Trump visit, Salisbury and the World Cup, and there are festivals where you need a police presence to keep people safe.
“Then there’s day-to-day policing which is in danger of being forgotten.
“Not only is it difficult to get time off, it’s increasingly difficult to get normal rest days.
“Most forces have cancelled rest days in the run up to the Trump visit.
“Any job has its pressures and that’s why your days off are so important because it’s like a pressure release valve.
“When our members are denied these days off, the pressure on them builds and builds.
“With the England game on Wednesday – and it happened when we beat Sweden – that outpouring of emotion when you’ve got a large group of people in drink, you get a mob mentality, so when one person starts doing something a bit daft, you get one-upmanship.
“Your average Wednesday evening you would normally police with relatively low numbers.
“What’s going to be different here is we’re going to need an increased police presence because you know the possibility of disorder is going to be heightened.
“It happened on Saturday and we won the game, imagine if we lost?”
Forces across the country received record numbers of 999 calls over the weekend, with West Midlands dealing with its highest ever number in 24 hours – 3,276 calls.
Essex Police saw 1,860 incidents between 6am on July 7 and 6am on July 8, which was its busiest 24 hours of the year, while West Yorkshire dealt with 2,307 emergency calls on Saturday compared with 1,826 on the same day a week ago.
Humberside and Northamptonshire Police, which also had to deal with the British Grand Prix, each received the highest number of calls since New Year’s Eve.
London Ambulance Service (LAS) also dealt with high demand, with 6,990 calls on Saturday, compared with 6,911 on New Year’s Day, and 6,890 on Sunday, which was up nearly 17% from the same day a week earlier.
LAS chief executive Garrett Emmerson said: “I’d urge those watching the football to show respect and restraint as our staff go about an already difficult and challenging job, keeping the capital safe.”
Millwall Supporters Club is raising money to pay for repairs to the damaged LAS vehicle.
Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh said: “We’ve progressed so well this time it’s going to keep going until it ends.
“It does put pressure on my colleagues and we have to deal with it.
“This is what alcohol does unfortunately, and it’s what my colleagues deal with.
“It’s not good, it’s not acceptable, but it’s what we deal with in policing.”
Addressing the Trump visit, he said: “I find it quite strange to understand how we can suddenly find £8 million to £10 million to police the visit of an individual, when we haven’t got any money whatsoever.
“People would say you would do it for any visit of a president and we would, but this is unprecedented because of the furore he’s causing by the thousands of people who are going to demonstrate.
“We’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating.
“We’re stretched to the limits. Most people in this country work five days a week for a reason.
“So they can recharge their batteries, see their families, get some sanity in their lives.
“My colleagues, they just work and work and work and work. You can’t do that, you’ll just fall over.”