The constant changes to coronavirus restrictions are placing huge demands on the resources of already stretched police forces, says South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne.
Steve says officers often have little time to get to grips with new lockdown legislation and what it will mean in real-life.
Speaking on national radio, he said the demand on members during the pandemic has been “exceptional”.
“It’s been incredibly difficult since the lockdown began,” said Steve. “We’ve had changes in legislation, changes in guidance.
“The Government pushed legislation and guidance out and then the police have to get a very quick understanding of matters.
“It’s constantly changing. It’s extremely difficult for a lot of officers in that respect.”
He added: “As we know, legislation will be published on one particular day and it’s enacted.
“We’re expected to align ourselves with that legislation but there is a learning part where we have to understand the implications of the legislation, what the guidance actually means and the real-life scenarios surrounding it. It’s incredibly difficult.”
Steve was speaking on BBC Radio Wales Breakfast with Claire Summers during a debate on lockdown measures. ( 1hr:43 - 1hr:50, on the recording)
Asked whether he welcomed calls from Mark Drakeford, the First Minister, for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban people travelling to Wales from lockdown parts of England, Steve encouraged people to “stay local where they can”.
And he said that policing such a ban would be a huge strain on resources.
“We can see pockets of increased coronavirus cases in various areas of the UK now, and we’ve got it in Wales,” said Steve.
“There’s a greater risk of travelling and spreading the virus around the country so, absolutely, we would advise people to stay local where they possibly can.”
He added: “It’s difficult to enforce. I make no bones about that because of the issues within policing.
“As we know, policing faces great demands just in the normal line of business in addressing crime.
“We’ve done that with reduced resources over a number of years and, yes, we’re starting to get increases in officer numbers, but the demand is still exceptional on our officers.
“They come to work every day doing the absolute best they can possibly do, but it’s another demand upon officers.
“Place the confusion around the legislation and guidance on top of that and it’s not a good picture.”
Asked how things could be done better, Steve said: “I don’t know the answer to that. It’s a fluid situation we’re facing. It’s a public health crisis, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
“Governments are going to be changing their policies and approaches to deal with this issue and they’re going to bring in legislation where they’re directed by the evidence and the medical guidance.
“At that point, when they bring in the legislation, as police we’ve got to react to it.”