90 days from today is Sun, 31 December 2023
9 April 2020
Wiltshire Police Federation has accused the Government of effectively treating police officers as collateral damage in the fight against coronavirus due to a lack of protective equipment.
Mark Andrews, Chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, highlighted that if levels of equipment to prevent officers from catching Covid-19 do not swiftly improve “a police officer will fall as they didn’t have the kit to look after them.”
And he outlined ahead of a busy Bank Holiday weekend how having police officers move from job to job across the county without sufficient protective masks, gloves and hand sanitiser also increases the risk of them unintentionally passing on the deadly virus to members of the public they encounter.
“I have been warning about this for weeks now and it’s got to the point that I’m seriously worried that we are waiting for an operational police officer to die before the Government addresses this serious issue,” said Mark.
“To be frank, the feeling among the officers I represent is that we are effectively being treated as collateral damage by the Government in the continuing fight against the virus. That is completely unacceptable.
“Police officers are Mums and Dads. Sons and Daughters. Husbands and Wives. Boyfriends and Girlfriends. We want to go home at the end of every shift fit and healthy for our families. And we need the right kit and the right amount of it to protect us.”
Mark, who represents more than 950 officers in the county, said that the current levels of protective equipment for officers are inconsistent. He says the blame does not lie with Wiltshire Police but rather in the supply chain from Central Government.
He added: “My primary aim is to ensure the wellbeing and safety of every officer I represent, and I am angry that our Westminster Government seem to think we are not worth looking after.
“We expose ourselves to risk every day to keep the public safe and we are not being provided with a sufficient quantity of equipment, in line with Public Health England’s advice, to ensure we minimise the harm to both ourselves and our families.
“And let’s also remember that sadly we are also putting the public at risk if we don’t have the correct protective equipment when we deal with someone who has the virus and then move on to our next job.”
Mark concluded: “Our Wiltshire Police logistic team is working tirelessly trying to sort this problem, working with local businesses and across force boundaries – even putting out a plea out for companies to donate spare hand sanitiser supplies.
“Yes, we fully appreciate as police officers how our superb colleagues working in the NHS are important… but so are we, because if due to illness we don’t have sufficient numbers of fit and healthy police officers on duty to encourage or enforce the Government’s lockdown and social distancing directions, then the NHS will be overwhelmed.
“I say to the Government you need to also prioritise the police and stop making excuses.”