17 November 2020
Derbyshire branch chair Tony Wetton says a successful personal protection equipment (PPE) campaign by the Police Federation of England and Wales has played its part in helping prevent officers contracting Covid-19.
New figures gathered by the Press Association for 24 forces across the four nations of the UK show 849 officers have been infected with the virus since the pandemic broke out in March this year.
Tony says that figure may have been higher if forces had not been quick to ensure that officers and staff had access to PPE.
Tony said: “We don’t want to see anyone contracting this horrible virus but the reality is that it’s out there and officers are as susceptible to it as anyone. We’re only human.
“Police officers have been on the front-line of the nation’s response to Covid-19 and, of course, often have to get close to people in the course of their duties which perhaps makes them more at risk.
“To mitigate this, the Police Federation campaigned for PPE to be provided and I think that most forces responded very well in terms of listening to what the Federation was saying and getting sufficient supplies of PPE out to everyone.
“Here in Derbyshire the Federation was heavily involved from the outset of the pandemic and from within the Gold and Silver Group meetings I saw the Force act quickly and effectively, being keen to ensure that everyone had access to adequate supplies of masks, sanitiser and so on.
“Some of the work the Force did in terms of social distancing has changed the landscape for flexible and agile working for years to come. The Force deserves credit for its response in trying to keep officers and staff as safe as possible.
“While it’s not always comfortable and practical to use PPE, I would encourage officers to continue using it where possible. We want to protect ourselves, our colleagues, our families and the public and to prevent, as much as we can, the spread of this virus at this time of rising numbers of infections and outbreaks. From tomorrow (18 November) officers and staff will be encouraged to wear face masks in all Force buildings when moving around or not sat at a workstation.
“Members are also encouraged to wear masks, particularly when social distancing is not an option, to wash hands and wipe down equipment before and after use.”
Officers have also been urged to download the Test and Trace app to their personal phones to carry on duty and familiarise themselves with the PPE guidance leaflet which gives practical advice around stop and search procedures, details how to handle contact with the public and explains the PPE measures required in many routine situations.
National Federation chair John Apter said: “Let’s also remember that policing the pandemic is taking a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of officers. They continue to work 12-hour shifts and have rest days cancelled to help protect the public at this difficult time.
“There is also the constant worry of taking the virus home to their loved ones which is exacerbated when they deal with offenders who weaponise the virus by spitting, biting and coughing – which is disgusting and unacceptable.”