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Provision of PPE to front line officers is 'mixed' says Federation


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COVID car forces are an example of good practice but news on testing for officers is still unclear MPs told.

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Date - 6th April 2020
By - Gary Mason

The provision of PPE for front line officers to protect them from contact with people who may have COVID 19 is mixed with some officers having no equipment at all or having to share it with colleagues, MPs have been told.

Sergeant Simon Kempton, Operational lead on COVID 19 for the Police Federation also told Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee today that there was ‘frustration’ about conflicting guidance coming out about the right type of PPE required.

“There has been some confusion with different advice from Public Health England and HSE,” he said.

There was some good practice in some forces with dedicated ‘COVID cars’ - vehicles equipped with a wide range of PPE which responded to the most high risk incidents and there are forces who have assigned equipment to every officer who needs it.

On behalf of the Federation he has taken a ‘temperature check’ on what the true picture of PPE is across the country.

“UK policing has taken possession of a huge amount of PPE,” he says. But from his own front line experience there were clear gaps in provision.

He says for example he took part in an arrest last week of someone who was suspected of having the virus and there was no PPE equipment for him and his colleague.

“We know that it is in the system but it is not getting to all of our colleagues. That tells me in the middle something has gone wrong whether it’s with the supply chain or local management," he said.

He says at a local level forces need to be much better at managing their stocks of equipment.

“A big box of PPE comes into a police station and officers will take a couple of masks some hand sanitiser and goggles and go to their next call. But when the late shift or night shift come in that PPE isn’t there anymore.”

On testing for the virus among front line officers Paul Griffiths from the Police Superintendents Association told the committee that orders had gone in at NPCC level for the tests but he didn’t know when they would be available to front line staff.

“There will be a number of tests available for critical roles but we are still waiting to get definitive numbers and timescales around those tests,” he added.

Sgt Kempton told the committee that as an example of innovative practice the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) are looking to re-purpose the existing police forensic laboratory network to build up testing capability for the police service.

“But even if were able to do that there is going to be some difficult decisions about which officers get the test or who gets them first and who has to wait,” he warned.

He said the Federation expects that officers will begin to see that testing start to take place from between the middle and the end of this month

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Hand sanitizer? I didn't know that was provided. I have to top mine up from home with ever dwindling supply.

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We're pretty well provisioned for the most part where front line is concerned.  Though if we're 2-up we need to wear masks all shift (which is why I'm solo for the foreseeable).  Police Staff have enough stuff, but not as readily available.  You need to go find it rather than it just being sat on the table.

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