Prime Minister heaps praise on police in surprise address

The Prime Minister has appeared in a surprise address to police officers, praising them for rising to the “enormous challenge” of dealing with the pandemic.

A recorded message from Boris Johnson was played to delegates at the annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales on Wednesday.

The body represents more than 120,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector.

In his message, Mr Johnson issued a “huge thank you” to “our incredible police men and women for the work that you’ve done to keep people safe during this awful pandemic”.

He went on: “You’ve encouraged people to stick to the rules at the same time as you’ve been fighting crime and you’ve each risen to an enormous challenge.”

Mr Johnson said: “Just as I could never have imagined being forced, as Prime Minister, to close pubs and bars and restaurants or tell people how many households could get together, I bet that policing restrictions in that way was not something you ever dreamt you would be doing.

“But you did it because you knew it was how we were going to protect the NHS and save lives.”

He added: “You have shown over the past year just why British police are the best in the world, now we are going to make sure you have the tools you need to deal with criminals, make our streets safer, and get on with the job you signed up to do.

“I wish you every success with the 2021 Police Federation conference.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who faced questions over vaccines for officers, pay and social media at the conference, also praised officers.

She said: “On behalf of the whole country, thank you for still being there for us during one of the toughest moments in our country’s history.

“You have done it superbly well and courageously.”