The quality of sandwiches offered to police during this summer’s riots has emerged as one of the top complaints from frontline officers involved in tackling the disorder, a report has revealed.
A new report by the Police Federation has listed the “poor quality” of sandwiches offered to officers as one of the most pressing concerns to arise.
Officers complained in ‘vast numbers’ about the choice of sandwich fillings from the catering teams, saying tuna, chicken and egg sandwiches which have a ‘limited shelf life’ left them exposed to the risk of food poisoning and were ‘disgusting after sitting around in a warm van’.
More than 8,000 officers responded to the report, titled Lessons from the Front Line. It reveals a litany of problems faced by police during the riots.
Among them are complaints about poor equipment, lack of rest days and judgment of senior officers.
But the report cites several complaints about the quality of food. It says the “strength of feedback in relation to catering has been huge”.
One officer said: “(The sandwiches) always have a poor choice of filling….by the time you get round to eating a tuna, chicken or egg sandwich they have been lying around in a warm van for hours and are not appetising.”
Another said: “Sandwich fillings are poor, hence we now immediately throw the sandwiches in the bin…Stop giving us rubbish.”
The report makes reference to the complaints saying: “The sandwich fillings were a serious concern – chicken, egg and fish are not appropriate fillings as they have a limited life once outside chilled storage.
“Recently 69 West Midlands Police officers were hospitalised suffering from serious food poisoning that was inappropriately prepared and stored.”
It also said that ‘snacks’ should be looked at and that “sandwiches, crisps and cake” must be challenged as “these foods offer little or no nutritional value to officers already tired and exhausted.”
Officers also complained about the lack of bottled water.
One said: “I only received one bottle of water for a tour of duty that was 19 hours long. I asked for extra bottles when collecting snacks at Hendon but was refused.
“At one point I was so thirsty I feared I would pass out…but I found an old bottle of water (in the back of my van) that was half drunk – this is unacceptable.”
Previously it was revealed that officers were forced to use their own mobile phones following problems with the radio system.
The report also reveals issues with shields, batons and other equipment. It says that extendable batons collapsed on themselves after one strike and other batons snapped in half when used.
Riot shields were in short supply and also broke too easily when hit with bricks.
One officer said his shield “split in two the moment it was first hit” and another said he “got knocked out by a lump of concrete” after it was hurled over his short shield after being told long shields were not available.
Officers also complained about the vans used to transport them, with one saying: “The vans are falling apart.” Others complained that old mini buses and school buses were used instead of riot vans.
It also reveals that 2,469 officers worked for 14 days without a day off. It adds: “Some officers worked the entire 31 days of August without a day off.”
Pete Smyth, chair of the Met Police Federation, told Police magazine: “It was an unprecedented time and when officers are put under that sort of stress and strain, not only that day but subsequent days it is only right we look at how we deployed equipment.
“If you get the basics right it helps to get everything else right (but) if you try to cobble things together with two buckets and a bit of string you don’t get a telephone.
“You cannot plan everything but we can do better than we can learn lessons.”
Disgusting’ sandwiches top complaint from riot police