8 April 2020
The chair of Derbyshire Police Federation says there is an ‘urgent need’ for officers across the country to have the correct PPE while protecting communities and helping support the NHS by ensuring people adhere to Government guidelines.
While Tony Wetton says Derbyshire is in ‘a good place’ in terms of the protective items available to members, some forces are still not receiving enough gloves, masks and other equipment they need for officers to carry out their duties during the coronavirus pandemic without undue risk to personal safety.
Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) operational lead Simon Kempton and Police Superintendents’ Association president Paul Griffiths raised the issue with MPs when they gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee via video link earlier this week.
And Tony hopes their words were taken seriously by the committee’s MPs.
“The role of the police in this pandemic is to support the NHS by ensuring that the restrictions placed on us all by Government are adhered to and effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” he explains.
“If we all stay at home, we protect the NHS and save lives. It’s as simple as that. My colleagues will do what they can to explain the need to stay at home and encourage everyone to do that. My message to anyone who puts a police officer in a position where, as a last resort, they have to issue a fine to get them to comply with the restrictions is ‘shame on you’.
“As officers carry out their roles at this time it is vital they have the right equipment and it is critical there is enough of it so it can be replenished on a regular basis.It’s tough knowing that some forces still don’t have enough PPE to give to their officers.
“Sadly, we are also hearing of incidents where COVID-19 is being used as a threat with people saying they will cough or spit at officers if they get too close to themand we have already had at least once incident in Derbyshire where officers have been coughed at by someone who said they were a ‘coronavirus super spreader’.
Other subjects that Simon Kempton brought to the attention of the Home Affairs Select Committee included that of coronavirus testing for officers and the likely problems posed rising domestic violence and child abuse cases while people are being told to stay indoors for several weeks.
He said officers would need extra support during the outbreak as they are forced to deal with the trauma of recovering the bodies of COVID-19 victims and concluded by explaining to MPs how difficult it was for forces across the country to deal with policing new legislation around the public’s restricted movements.
“When I joined the service 20 years ago, I was never taught how to police a pandemic. Me and my colleagues are continuing to learn. We now have consistent training and it’s working – but the messaging from the Government to the public needs to be consistent as well,” he said.
“This isn’t business as usual, but our day job goes on alongside COVID-19 and we have got to do everything that we usually would – this increases burden on colleagues.”