The national chair of the Police Federation has slammed a spate of ‘seriously damaging’ anti-police reports.
John Apter, who heads the organisation which represents rank and file officers from across England and Wales, has called for more media support, warning that biased reporting risks impeding recruitment drive for new officers.
Mr Apter cited a recent Sky News report regarding the number of serving officers with convictions for criminal offences.
He said that given there are more than 130,000 officers and PCSOs in England and Wales, the 200 figure cited in the report was a tiny percentage, claiming it was a “regurgitated anti-police story” which “just wants to undermine policing”.
However, he said the Sky report was just one of many fuelling negative perceptions of the police service at a time when forces were stretched to breaking point and dealing with a host of unprecedented national issues – including tackling the ongoing Black Lives Matters protests and far-right counter-protests, policing the lockdown and post-lockdown period, enduring a worrying rise in serious assaults on emergency workers and working with a reduce number of officers following a decade of budget cuts.
He said: “It is absolutely right that policing is transparent and accountable to the public; and that we continually look to see if we can do things even better by listening to the communities we serve – but the continuous vilification of policing and my colleagues in the media is seriously damaging.
“Policing is going through a tough time right now and these continuous attacks are chipping away at the morale of our members who are doing their best during this trying period. These anti-police reports also risk eroding public confidence in the service at a time where forces are trying to recruit more officers. This biased reporting risks damaging the recruitment drive.
“In the current climate where it is fair game to attack policing I would not be surprised if officers conduct less stop and searches out of fear of being publicly berated.
“They are damned whatever they do.
“Policing in the UK may not be perfect, but it is not as bad as is currently being portrayed.
“I am proud of my colleagues; the fantastic work they do every day goes largely unnoticed and doesn’t grab the headlines. We know the silent majority do support their police officers. I would urge those who do to speak up – we need your support now more than ever.”