SADDLEWORTH Parish councillors are joining their voices together to show support and appreciation for the police across the community and beyond.
Cllr Luke Lancaster proposed a motion at their October meeting to support the police, especially following an increase of assaults during the pandemic and a rise in online anti police rhetoric.
He explained: “Over the summer, we have unfortunately seen a growing cultural movement seeking to undermine, de-legitimise and unfairly criticise police officers and the work that they do.
“This has been exemplified, for example, in the increasing prevalence of the foul and repulsive acronym ‘ACAB’ (meaning ‘All Cops Are Bastards’) across social media channels.
“Assaults against police offers are all too common and, during the pandemic, there have been numerous reports of individuals, who claim to have coronavirus, coughing and spitting on officers.
“One assault against a police officer is one too many. But 88 per cent of PCs say they have been assaulted during their career.
“And n the first three months of lockdown there was a 21 per cent rise in the volume of assaults on officers compared to the same period last year.
“The recent tragic death of Sgt Matt Ratana and the attack on Greater Manchester Police PCs Joanna and Jack Wilber in September last year show the challenges, and sacrifices, of serving on ‘the thin blue line’.
“The police should always have our support for the important work they do while facing great danger.
“I believe we should show our trust and confidence in the police and applaud their bravery and public service on behalf of Saddleworth.”
His motion, which was unanimously accepted, called on the Parish Council to acknowledge and reject any efforts made to undermine, de-legitimise and unfairly criticise police officers and the work they do and to applaud the public service of police, particularly local teams in Saddleworth and Oldham.
It added the Parish Council will strongly state appreciation of the police for their willingness to take on unique challenges and pressures, and potentially shoulder great sacrifice, for the benefit of all citizens, and join with the Police Federation in welcoming HM Government’s announcement of an increase in the maximum prison sentence for assaulting a police officer from twelve months to two years.
Cllr Max Woodvine, who seconded the motion, added: “Our team in Saddleworth do a great job so we should be supporting them any way we can and appreciate what they do for us.
“Some police make the ultimate sacrifice, for example, PC Nicola Hughes, who was born and bred in Saddleworth.”
Cllr Jamie Curley commented: “I went on a ride-along with the local police and found out a bit about what happens here and across Oldham. They are stretched so far but serve our community diligently.
“Not many people have the sort of job where you go out in the morning and do not know if you will be going home at tea-time.
“It is important we show our support for the police, especially in these difficult times.”
Cllr Kathryn Phillips echoed his words, adding: “It is really difficult times at the moment so it is more important than ever that we show our support.”
Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani said: “One of the most important things is we have a model of policing by consent – there is a relationship between the police and the public they serve.
“It is important we have respect in both directions and we encourage that across the board.”
Cllr Barbara Beeley, chair of the Parish Council, added: “My father was a policeman and I have seen the way policing has changed over the years. I am in strong favour of this motion.
“I remember him coming home occasionally with a black eye – so things like that haven’t just started happening recently.”