The police risk their lives to keep us safe. They too deserve our applause.

First published in April 2020.

I’d like to tell you about a police officer I know.

Today is their 18th day in a row working without a day off. In that time they have had to work at least one double shift and have been called into work early several times.

As of this week, they are no longer working in a pair with their partner, because there simply aren’t enough officers. That there aren’t enough officers is undoubtedly due to Tory cuts, but it is being exacerbated by Covid-19 with colleagues falling ill.

My friend is an experienced officer and has dealt with many awful situations that most of us are lucky enough to have never experienced. Yet the current situation is, according to them, worse than anything else they have ever experienced.

Their main focus at the moment is safety. Everyone’s safety. But this officer and their colleagues are experiencing hitherto unknown levels of abuse. Not just verbal. Officers are being spat and coughed at by people claiming to be infected too.

No one was prepared for this, yet we expect an underfunded police force of people working at breaking point to do all of this flawlessly at the drop of a hat.

The communication from government has been vague and confusing, so is it any wonder if there are mistakes in interpreting it? The police are not PR experts and I very much doubt that they have much of a budget for that with all the cuts.

The police risk their lives to keep us safe. They are still doing that. They too deserve our applause. Remember that they are all just people with families who are as scared as you are of Covid-19 and they are dealing with enormous pressure and stress.

I worry about my friend getting the virus as they are already physically and mentally exhausted. Perhaps bear that in mind when you see police officers maybe being less than patient with people having a BBQ, a party or a picnic.

So this weekend, when you are frustrated about not partying with friends, BBQing on the beach or picnicking in the park, please spare a thought for my friend, who on Monday will be working their 21st day straight, with no break, and not with their family: to keep you safe.🔷

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 11 April 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Gif of police officers on BBC Newsnight.)

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