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13 November 2020
More than 800 UK police officers have tested positive for Covid-19 this year.
Figures gathered by the Press Association for 24 forces across the four nations of the UK show 849 officers became infected. Those numbers would undoubtedly have been higher if the Police Federation of England and Wales had not campaigned so effectively for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be provided.
Our National Chair John Apter commented: “By the very nature of policing, officers will always be in close contact with a large amount of people during their shifts. It is inevitable that some officers will catch the virus, although we would rather this not be the case. However, if it weren’t for the Federation campaigning so hard for PPE, this figure would be considerably higher.
“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.”
Spit and cough attacks by vile individuals who claim to have Covid increased by 74 per cent in the first lockdown period.
Mr Apter continued: “This shows the sorts of individuals we have to deal with. People need to realise that behind the uniform, officers are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. So, we will continue to lobby the Government and the Sentencing Council to ensure harsher sentences are handed down to those who attack emergency workers.”
The Federation is urging members to wear masks, particularly when social distancing is not an option, to wash hands and wipe down equipment before and after use. We also encourage officers to download the NHS ‘Track and Trace’ app to their personal phones to carry on duty and familiarise themselves with the guideline leaflet about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The leaflet contains practical advice around stop and search procedures, how to handle contact with the public, and what PPE measures are required to handle many routine situations.
Take some time to read the PPE Guidance.
* The figures do not include the Metropolitan Police and 20 other forces who did not provide figures to the Press Association.
Mr Apter also spoke to Sky News on the matter.