A RANK-and-file police chief said the Wiltshire force would rise to the challenge presented by Covid-19. 

Insp Mark Andrews, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: "Covid-19 is one of the most significant challenges of our policing generation - but it is a challenge our police officers will rise to in order to support the communities they serve.

He called on people to use the police - in common with all emergency services - sensibly. “These are tough times for the country. We are an emergency service and there is no working from home for the majority of our police officers as the public need to have access to us - and we will continue to protect them in line with the Police Attestation sworn by every constable at the start of their career.  

“All I would ask from the public is to consider, as they have been asked to do with the NHS, if the issue they are facing needs an emergency response or police involvement at all? 

“If the police are needed and it is not an emergency there are various ways of contacting us including 101 and via our website, using these options will reduce some of the burden on our front line staff.  

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Mark Andrews Picture: Wiltshire Police Federation

“The main question should be: are the police actually the best organisation to assist you or would the matter be more effectively handled by another, such as the council?  

“But we want to reassure people. We are not going anywhere. You can continue to rely on us when you are in need.” 

Last week, Chief Constable Kier Pritchard told Swindon councillors: "We are exercising our plans and renewing our excess deaths plan. We are still in the contain phase but we are ready to move."