Life as a Police officer during the COVID19 outbreak

Poonam Chudasama

Poonam Chudasama

working during lockdown

Are you still working despite being on lockdown?

Yes, all officers are still having to work unless they have the virus or have taken time off to look after somebody vulnerable.

 

Does it scare you having to go to work during this pandemic?

The job in itself can be scary at times, as you don’t know what situation you will be faced with on any normal day but now it is a different level of threat. Key workers cannot just give up at times like this – when we are needed the most. People are vulnerable and scared and may be acting out because of fear. It is our job not only to make sure they abide by the law but also help them out and ensure they are okay.

 

Have you been given any extra protection to help yourself?

We have each been issued face masks to help protect ourselves from being exposed to the virus. We also have access to hand sanitiser and gloves and we are taking making good use of those at the moment.

 

How do you feel the general public are coping with the virus and has it affected the crime rates?

Criminal activity has gone down a little however there have still been numerous thefts, robberies and non-dwelling burglaries. There has been a rise in domestic calls from people who are not able to leave the house. However, on the whole, at least from the station I am based at I would say crime rate lowered fractionally.

 

How is everybody coping on the force in general?

Everybody is different and has different mindsets when it comes to coping mechanisms. I am grateful to be accepted back into my home despite not being able to self-isolate but many of my colleagues that have children or live with elderly relatives are having to live elsewhere or sleep in their garage which I can imagine being extremely tough.

However, the morale in the station I work at is high, we are like one big family and we are all dealing with the same threat. People have been bringing in food for each other, offering services and being all round good crew mates.

 

Do you have any additional powers to use force on people for being out of their homes following Government guidelines tightening?

We don’t want to have to use force to make people go back into their homes however the safety and well-being of our country is paramount. In certain circumstances it may be necessary to use it. If we saw somebody who didn’t have a justified reason to be out of their home, our first step would be to encourage them to go back indoors. We have the power to issue fines for those who know they are in breach of the guidelines to remain home. However, if this and the issuing of a fine fails then reasonable force could be used as a last resort.

 

You mentioned that people are allowed out if they have a justifiable excuse, please would you elaborate on this?

Yes, there are a few justifications for being outside, which were announced by Boris Johnson. This includes exercising once a day, buying essentials such as food and medicine, caring duties and going to work if it is not possible to work from home. There are also of course emergency situations or unforeseen circumstances such as fires etc that may arise which cause you to flee the house also.

 

Do you still have to go into people’s homes?

Yes, we still go into homes, however when a 999 call is placed, the control room are now asking additional questions before they dispatch police officers to ensure that nobody we could come into contact with, has any symptoms. However, having said this in certain emergency situations such as domestic violence cases and child protection concerns, the symptoms of others are the last thing on our minds and public safety and well being take priority.

 

Are you having to work longer shifts?

In this job it is rare that you finish exactly on time and the majority of shifts end later. The police have not yet been asked to work longer shifts although there is talk of us having to work overtime in the near future, however nothing has been decided as of yet.

 

Are you still allowed to take holidays?

We haven’t been told that we are not allowed to take holidays however with many officers being off due to illness it wouldn’t surprise me if we were unable to.

coronavirus food

Have you seen any positive things recently whilst on duty?

Many fast food places due to having to shut down have been very generous to police officers and emergency services in general. We have been given food from Greggs, Five Guys, Starbucks, McDonalds and have also been given free parking in city centre which helps out a lot.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to advise people?

I would just like to ask that everybody remain calm and in self isolation, so this can all blow over and we can have the summer that everybody is looking forward to.