One year on from when the first Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane has congratulated Cheshire Police for the way it has adapted its services in response to the pandemic.
In September 2020, Cheshire Police launched a new approach to community policing, placing dedicated officers into each of the county’s 122 policing areas to tackle crime and support communities.
Depending on restrictions, weekly police surgeries have been moved online or outside giving residents the best chance to directly contact their officers, and allowing Cheshire Constabulary to build relationships with the community and target issues at the root cause before they escalate.
Similarly, the Constabulary has met the rise in reports of domestic abuse during the pandemic with more than 75 per cent of frontline staff having completed training in dealing with ‘abusive relationship’ and ‘family disturbance’.
It has also established a monthly ‘Vulnerability Board’ and a weekly Domestic Abuse Performance Meeting chaired by the detective chief superintendent of public protection who is also the constabulary lead for domestic abuse.
Despite working longer hours and in traumatic circumstances on the frontline of a global pandemic, the PCC has praised the Constabulary’s ability to continuously deliver an effective service to protect Cheshire residents.
David said: “Despite all the challenges facing our officers, staff and volunteers, every single one of them has managed to deliver a first class service to protect the residents of Cheshire.
“We cannot underestimate the pressure they face on a day-to-day basis – from witnessing excessive trauma to working longer hours on a regular basis in often traumatic circumstances, all while a global pandemic continues to create great uncertainty and stress for people in our communities.
“All of our departments are facing unprecedented challenges, but our workforce continues to deliver time and time again.”
David has also called for more support from the government to protect frontline officers and staff by prioritising vaccines for them before the next rollout.
Once those over 50 have been vaccinated, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation plan to roll out immunisations across the other age groups, leaving those on the Covid frontline at risk.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, David called for an urgent U-turn on the decision and urged the Government to protect those who protect our society as a priority.
Also recognising that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the physical and mental health of the force, the PCC has also worked to agree enhanced occupational health support for officers, staff and volunteers.
This will include vastly reduced waiting times for much-needed psychological support as well as one-to-one support being available in all local policing units, and will be rolled out in November 2021.
Speaking about the new in-house model, David added: “We would be failing our workforce and doing a disservice to Cheshire residents by not making this investment.
“This increased level of support will enable us to ensure everybody who works for Cheshire Constabulary is in the best possible shape to keep Cheshire safe.”