POLICE should not be subjected to abuse for policing the national lockdown, a union boss has said.

Cumbria Police Federation says officers are working ‘flat out’ to keep the public safe and to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus cases.

Cumbrian officers have been subjected to negative comments amid strict regulations on the freedom of movement even though they are just trying to help, county dederation chairman Paul Williams said.

“It is very disappointing to see the negative comments on how our members are policing this situation during Covid,” he said. “They are doing a fantastic job in thankless and strenuous situations that policing has never before seen.

“They are continuously adapting to new legislation and trying their very best to keep the public safe, putting themselves at risk of harm in doing so.

“It’s an impossible situation when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

“The public find it easy to criticise the police because we are the public-facing body that has to physically go out there and deal with the breaches that should not be happening,” he added.

“Officers don’t enjoy having to enforce this legislation and would much rather not have to attend and deal with needless breaches.

“The rules are there for a reason, and that is clear, to save lives and stop the overloading of our NHS.

“If enforcement is necessary, then officers need to feel publicly supported and not criticised for doing what they are being asked to do.”

Mr Williams said the stress of being on the frontline in the battle against the pandemic was taking a toll on officers’ physical and mental health.

He is now calling for officers to be near the front of the vaccination queue so they can maintain their resilience and protect the public.

“Cops are human beings as well; they are also catching and suffering from this virus as well as witnessing and suffering the losses that come with it,” he said.

“The vaccination of our officers is something that has to be a priority. The vaccination of NHS staff and the vulnerable is, of course, essential and rightly a top priority.

“However, following this police officers need to be prioritised due to the very nature of the occupation.”