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Statement on police response to COVID-19 from ACC Nikki Watson

Nikki-30_ENH

The outbreak of COVID-19 is presenting all of us with unique challenges and I want to reassure all our communities that our officers and staff are rising to them all.

While this is an unprecedented situation, we have well-rehearsed plans in place to respond to events which could impact on the services we provide and we’re currently taking all the necessary steps to maintain our critical functions.

A major incident was declared yesterday at a meeting of the Avon and Somerset Local Resilience Forum (LRF). This allows us to put in place clear structures and mechanisms for multi-agency working and has not been initiated because of a significant rise in cases in our area or because agencies are unable to cope.

The public can be absolutely assured they will still see neighbourhood officers on patrol and we will still be responding to emergencies and high priority incidents as normal.

As it stands, police stations and enquiry offices remain open to the public and will only close should the latest health advice suggest such measures are required. We will update our website detailing any changes if need be.

As always, we continue to encourage people to report all non-urgent offences online rather than via 101. This ensures call handlers are free to deal with more pressing demands for our service.

While the public won’t see any changes to frontline policing we have, as you’d expect, needed to adapt many of the ways in which we work. Where appropriate, lower-level offences are now being addressed over the phone while all police employees who are able to work from home are doing so. All non-essential training, meetings and public engagements have also been cancelled.

Emergency legislation now gives police power to return someone to isolation if they refuse to follow the instructions of a medical professional. To be clear, this power will only be used in close cooperation with Public Health England and medical professionals and only if someone with the virus knowingly and deliberately endangers others.

PHE and the Government are leading the response to this quite exceptional public health emergency and I’d encourage everyone to visit gov.uk for all the latest advice and guidance.

It’s at times like this we see the very best of community spirit and partnership working and I’d like to thank all those, including our officers and staff going above and beyond the call of duty, who are working as one to respond to this situation.

Further guidance:

•           Visit our dedicated COVID-19 page for links to all the latest news on policing services.

•           Visit GOV.UK to read the Government’s advice on COVID-19.

•           See Government advice for staying at home, for households with possible COVID-19 infection and social distancing to protect vulnerable groups.

•           Visit the NHS website for hygiene advice and advice on calling 111.

•           For advice on mental health, visit the Every Mind Matters website.

Posted on Friday 20th March 2020
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