Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom is encouraging members to continue to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as new figures show more than 800 UK police officers have tested positive for Covid-19.
Figures gathered by the Press Association for 24 forces across the four nations of the UK show 849 officers have been infected with coronavirus during the pandemic.
Liz said the figure would have been higher but for the use of PPE such as masks and hand sanitisers, which the Federation campaigned for in the early stages of the pandemic.
“Police officers are dedicated to their job and have been on the front-line of the fight against this virus from day one,” Liz said, “But they’re as vulnerable to it as everybody else and can catch it just the same. In fact, the nature of our roles means we’re often in close proximity to other people and it’s inevitable some will catch the virus.
“I can’t help feeling that the numbers of infections of officers would’ve been considerably higher if it wasn’t for the use of PPE. That said, I would urge officers not to be complacent – the virus has not gone away – and to continue to use PPE where they’re able to.”
Members are encouraged to wear masks, particularly when social distancing is not an option, to wash hands and wipe down equipment before and after use.
Officers have also been urged to download the Track and Trace app to their personal phones to carry on duty and familiarise themselves with the PPE guidance leaflet which gives practical advice around stop and search procedures, details how to handle contact with the public and explains the PPE measures required in many routine situations.
National Federation chair John Apter said: “Let’s also remember that policing the pandemic is taking a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of officers. They continue to work 12-hour shifts and have rest days cancelled to help protect the public at this difficult time.
“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.”
Spit and cough attacks by people claiming to have Covid-19 increased by 74 per cent in the first lockdown period.
John said: “This shows the sorts of individuals we have to deal with. People need to realise behind the uniform, officers are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.
“So, we will continue to lobby the Government and the Sentencing Council to ensure harsher sentences are handed down to those who attack emergency workers.”