South Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said they have endured ‘an incredibly tough 18 months’ and ‘there does not appear to be an ending in sight’.
Chairman Steve Kent said self-isolating officers ‘pinged’ by the NHS app is adding to the pressure they are under and those having to work extended shifts to cover for colleagues ‘are at the end of their tether’.
“It pains me to say but police officers in South Yorkshire have had enough… they are absolutely shattered; emotionally and physically,” he said.
“There’s real understandable but frustrating restrictions on leave which is just causing problems.
“There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight when it comes to September because we think that is going to continue potentially, which is why our force has to re-look at how we do things for the next couple of months.”
Steve said the “pingdemic” – which has forced colleagues to isolate – heaps ‘more work onto the shoulders of officers who are left at work’.
“I’m not going to put numbers on it because it varies, but we have seen significant numbers of officers having to isolate,” he said.
“I know that’s being addressed with some of the measures being put in place around testing, but the effect is that over the last month and going into the summer, because of the Pingdemic and because of the lockdown releasing, we’ve had the force extend shifts mandatorily on weekends, which means that officers are working really, really long hours.
“But the alternative to not working those long hours was to have officers being called in on their days off – having their all important and much needed rest days cancelled. Our view has been we’d rather have cops working longer than cops working their days off.
“But frankly it’s an awful choice because there are just not enough officers to do the work. Demand is outstripping resources. And it’s our colleagues who are going to break.
“I can’t underestimate or play down the strength of frustration out there with how hard officers are working.”