90 days from today is Wed, 28 August 2024

Norfolk Police Federation

Covid-19 Federation Update

18 March 2020


Following on from our previous email to you dated the 13/03/2020, we would like to provide you with the following update: -

Sam and I met with the Chief Constable yesterday and discussed the developing situation. He gave us assurances that the Force would be pragmatic with regard to resourcing and the demands placed on the service at this difficult time. This is being reviewed on a daily basis at Silver and Gold meetings, of which we attend.

We understand that officers will have many questions and serious concerns about the impact this will have on their own personal and professional lives. We are doing everything we can as a Federation to make sure all is being done that possible can be. It’s a fast-moving situation which is changing daily. We visited Occupational Health who are busy making up the Grab Bags which will continue to be sent out to all stations to be placed in police vehicles. Please bear in mind that there is a national shortage of PPE and the force is doing its best to secure more supplies.

The Federation and the Chief are concerned that many officers will have partners and dependants that will be unable to work due to self-isolation or may have been made redundant or forced to take unpaid leave due to the effects that Covid-19 is having on our economy. He is currently exploring financial support that could be made available to those officers and their families through the Benevolent Fund and ways in which the Force itself can assist and support too.

It is inevitable that there will be short notice duty changes and moves to other departments so please bear with the Resource Management Unit in the coming weeks and months. We are liaising daily with RMU, discussing issues and pragmatic ways in which the problems can be overcome.

We have been reassured that supervisors and managers have been given the direction to be pragmatic and explore all the possible flexibilities to enable us all to work most effectively where we can. This flexibility will need to extend to us as Police Officers where we can as we navigate through this unprecedented situation.

If you have one or more of the stipulated underlying health conditions (see list below) or are pregnant then speak with your supervisor/manager so risk assessments can be completed and mitigation put in place, which could be home working, working from a designated police station that does not have high footfall with front-line officers and visitors attending.

• chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, emphysema or bronchitis
• chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
• chronic kidney disease
• chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
• chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
• diabetes
• problems with your spleen - for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
• a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy
• being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
• have had an organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressant medicine
• have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
• have another serious health condition

You are still expected to attend work, if you have partners or people you live with who have any of the above underlying health conditions or are pregnant and none of you have any of the Corona Virus symptoms. If you or they have symptoms, then please follow the advice below and the guidance/advice available on 'The Beat'.
However please religiously follow the guidelines around personal hygiene and social distancing for these loved ones. Please speak with your manager or supervisor if you have concerns or need more help or advice.

There are robust plans in place for the next few weeks and months when we will see even more of our colleagues having to self-isolate or contract the virus. These plans will involve certain departments/roles being required to suspend their normal work to support response policing, this will be a graduated approach over the coming weeks/months. As I have previously stated we will get to a position in that there may be requirement to move to 12hr shifts. We are in the GOLD and SILVER meetings making sure that if this is required, we move away from the 6 on 4 off pattern to ensure officers wellbeing is looked after as much as possible and we don’t have burn out.

The most recent clinical advice received indicated there was no increase in risk to police officers performing their routine duties. It is important to note however that advice predated the general government advice on social distancing issued yesterday. I regret that combined with the lack of PPE this will do little to reassure you and we are working hard to bring clarity to this area ASAP.

Stay at home if you have either

• a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
• a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

How long to stay at home if you have symptoms

• Anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.
• If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
• After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine.
• But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they're at home for longer than 14 days.
• If you live with someone who is 70 over, has a long-term health condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try and find somewhere else to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

If you still have symptoms after 7 days

• After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.
• If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.
• If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

Please remember that if you’re self-isolating but do not have symptoms yourself you will be given special leave on full pay. It will not be recorded as sickness. If you do have symptoms and have to self-isolate then you will be recorded as sick but this sickness will not be counted towards any HR/sickness absence triggers, it will be discounted.

In the meantime, we would implore the adoption of good hand hygiene. Whilst it may appear that the extent of the advice is simply to wash your hands, this is at the core of what is required to beat this virus.

• You should adopt good hand hygiene and wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and water
• Keep your fingernails short and where possible be clean shaven. Masks (when they are supplied) will not provide the desired level of protection if the wearer is not clean shaven
• Where possible, keep sleeves rolled up to avoid their making unnecessary contact with surfaces.
• If practical to do so – when you enter a home or other premise, ask the occupant if you can wash your hands before doing anything else
• Wash your hands as soon as you arrive in the police station and as soon as you return home
• Keep your mobile phone, desk, keyboard and desk phone clean
• Look out for each other – do not try to be a hero and suppress any symptoms you may be experiencing. If you have a new persistent cough or fever, you should self-isolate and follow the usual advice.

It is important to acknowledge that the honest answer to many of your questions is that we simply do not have all of the answers at this time. Despite this it is also important to acknowledge that the lack of answers is as much a source of frustration for the service, and the Federation as it is for you. We are in constant dialogue with the force as we try to address this as best we can. You will be getting more information as advice changes and we have more answers to your questions.
Finally, our commitment to you is that we will continue to answer and deal with your questions/issues as they arise as best we can, whilst also keeping our office staff safe. To this end we have suspended all visitors to Federation Offices at this time, please do not attend, unless you are asked specifically to do so.

Currently we are experiencing a large amount of phone calls into the office as well as an increased e-mail traffic from officers. Can I ask that you only make contact with us if it is absolutely necessary or you’ve been asked to call us by a Fed rep. Please bear with us, we will endeavour to answer your queries as quick as we can but please expect a delayed response.

If you do need to ring the office and your call is not answered please send an email to Norfolk@polfed.org and we will respond to you in due course.

If your query is urgent and requires immediate assistance and you cannot get through on our office number, please contact the Control Room Inspector for details of the on-call Federation Representative.

We appreciate that these are uncertain times for you and your families. That uncertainty will continue for the foreseeable future, and I regret that we are unable to be able to alleviate all of your concerns just now. We are working tirelessly with the force and other agencies to ensure you are as well informed and prepared for the many challenges that lie ahead. Please look after one another, your families and loved ones.

Kind Regards,

Andy & Sam
Branch Chair & Branch Secretary