11 March 2020
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE POLICE FEDERATION - COVID19
In the two weeks since assuming office as Chair of Northamptonshire Police Federation, I have been involved in the Silver (tactical) and Gold (strategic) meetings into our response to Covid-19.
If I were to be critical in any way of the Force plans to what will now be a very challenging year for every facet of our society, that criticism would be that the Force’s plans are so advanced, detailed and informed that some of us find it difficult to catch up and keep up! There has not been a single question for which there hasn’t been an answer. I now feel the need to add some support and advice to members, given that I suspect we are about to enter a new phase of this epidemic.
I think this will be one of the most significant and unique times in modern life. It will require unique solutions and test everyone, not just in policing.
For us, who characteristically roll up our sleeves and get stuck into problem-solving, we are going to have to be patient and let the public health authorities lead us, and trustingly follow. It cannot be a case of ‘the police know better’ and I ask you to remember that we are not the lead agency. I say this for a good reason, and not to lecture.
So, a heads up from me to our members, if I may?
- All the advice on Covid-19 is now centralised on ForceNet. This includes details on all facets of the issues: a central HR-staffed helpline, and stressing the use of 111 if you feel ill or exposed. We all simply MUST check the Covid-19 section of Forcenet however busy we are. The Force simply hasn’t the capacity to do more to inform on general issues at a time when it will be exercised in every part of the organisation. I have said that I will emphasise that Forcenet will be our go-to place for breaking news and key information on the virus and our job. The situation is going to change on an almost daily basis.
- The Force have already now-dusted-down business continuity plans. Have you got a plan in your home and family life? How will you deal with infection at home or in the family? Do you know what to do if this happens? Do you know the high risk groups and conditions? How will you alter your current and any disrupted routines? I respectfully suggest that doing nothing is not an option. We need you to be responsible for knowing what work requires of you and allows you to do (be assured these are very reasonable). You must inform the force if you have a suspected infection at home: follow the advice on ForceNet.
- If ever there was an exigency, it is now. The ensuing months will test our response to the unforeseeable. Within reason, it is possible that every available officer could be mobilised to perform basic duty. It will be no use saying ‘I don’t have any boots’ or ‘my uniform doesn’t fit’ or ‘I’m a plain clothed officer’, ‘I can’t find my PPE’ or I don’t have uniform’. With published modelling of 30% of our workforce being abstracted, there may be a real, compelling requirement for all of us to be deployed to assist the frontline and your leaders will be checking this. Speak to them now if you predict this will cause you issues. We will discuss with, and assist the force in moderating the use of exigency measures.
- If you have a force issued mobile device or laptop, it would be advisable and prudent to have these at home with you when off duty. It may assist to turn them on if there are messages or information to be passed and to keep up to date if coming to work becomes difficult.
We, your Federation, have daily contact with Supt Johnson, who is leading the Force response. If you have issues on which you want us to represent, influence and negotiate on your behalf, please speak to your work-based reps or the Federation Office. Otherwise, please read between the lines of this message and work out what your response will be individually, as teams and as departments. Above all, be assured that there is probably not a reasonable question for which an answer has not been sought and found. Keep in touch with Forcenet and the news media and ask if in doubt. There’ll never be a silly question!
With best wishes for your ongoing physical and mental health in what will be a worrying time for us all.
Northamptonshire Police Federation