‘PPE has helped reduce spread of virus’

Dyfed Powys branch secretary Roger Webb says the Federation’s successful personal protective equipment (PPE) campaign has helped limit the number of police officers with Covid-19.

Figures gathered by the Press Association for 24 forces across the four nations of the UK show 849 officers have contracted the virus during the pandemic and Roger believes that figure would have been higher if it wasn’t for officers using PPE.

Roger said: “Early on in the pandemic, the Federation was campaigning for PPE, such as gloves, masks and hand gels, to be provided and forces stepped up to the mark by ensuring there were adequate supplies for officers and staff. But I have to say that our Force was particularly good. It was in front of the curve and provided suitable PPE from the onset.

“Of course, we wouldn’t want any officers to have contracted Covid but I think the figure reported by the Press Association would have been higher if it wasn’t for the use of PPE.

“And I would encourage our members to keep on using it. This virus hasn’t gone away. There are still restrictions in place and we owe it to ourselves, our colleagues and the public to do everything in our power to prevent it being spread.”

Members are asked to wear masks, particularly when social distancing is not an option, to wash hands and wipe down equipment before and after use.

Officers are also encouraged to download the test and trace app to their personal phones to carry on duty and familiarise themselves with the PPE guidance leaflet. It offers practical advice about stop and search procedures, handling contact with the public, and the PPE measures needed in many routine situations.

National Federation chair John Apter has also warned that policing the pandemic is taking a toll on officers’ mental health and wellbeing.

“They continue to work 12-hour shifts and have rest days cancelled to help protect the public at this difficult time,” he explained, “There is also the constant worry of taking the virus home to their loved ones which is exacerbated when they deal with offenders who weaponise the virus by spitting, biting and coughing – which is disgusting and unacceptable.”