There are many essential services which are needed during the current Covid-19 period, such as health, food and utilities, however, the police service is another and the public will understandably be concerned how the crisis will affect them, should they be a victim of crime.
I can only speak for Hampshire Constabulary, however, I am sure that other police forces will have similar responses, where our communities can be assured that essential calls will be responded to.
These are unprecedented times with each day changing with the developments as they unfold, however, it is important for the residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to know that plans are on-going to make sure that all emergency calls are being adequately responded to.
There will be some changes to assist with committing to essential work, because our organisation is equally effected, where staff have needed to stay away from work to self-isolate.
This will mean some shortages of frontline offices, requiring those in other roles to move to cover these gaps, meaning that those in neighbourhoods, training and some other functions, will be utilised to fill the response strand, where needed.
These changes will mean that some of the work that officers do in non-response roles will be reduced for a period, however, this will no doubt be a fluctuating situation because officers will only move where necessary and for as long as required.
Most training has already been suspended, mainly to protect staff from being near one another, but it also allows for police officers seconded or in training roles to be available to join response teams.
Police Community Support Officers will remain as they are – in many ways they will form the backbone of neighbourhood policing when their police officer colleagues are required elsewhere, so community issues will largely be unaffected.
The use of social media and online conferencing will be used to communicate with the public and to hold meetings.
Officers and staff working in the control room and those involved in triage teams that investigate non-urgent calls, will be needed, therefore any shortages in these departments will require back filling.
The public have been very understanding and supportive because these temporary changes have meant that some reported crime cannot realistically be investigated.
Serious crimes will always be investigated, but otherwise, each reported crime will undergo a triage process where the threat, risk and harm will be assessed. It will be only those crimes meeting certain criteria in these areas that will be further investigated, therefore ensuring that the protection of life and property, which all officers swear an allegiance to, is maintained.
The media is reporting emergency powers for the police, such as detaining people suspected of having the virus who are not self-isolating. No doubt there will be other laws passed in the coming weeks, therefore the demand on an already stretched police service will increase.
The changing situation will require continued assessment, but in these times of worry and uncertainty, it is important for our communities to know that public safety will be maintained.
To assist with the unprecedented pressure and the need to keep each other safe, please do heed the advice from the government and Public Health England.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Office.