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Civil nuclear police and MoD officers to backfill for sick officers

Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary will backfill officer numbers of the COVID-19 outbreak impacts staffing.

Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary will backfill officer numbers of the COVID-19 outbreak impacts staffing but the Police Federation have called for clarity from the government on how frontline officers must respond 

Police Federation National Chair John Apter, said: “We are in unprecedented and uncertain times, with government advice frequently changing as COVID-19 affects more people.

“Keeping the public safe is the number one priority for police officers, but policing is already under a huge strain from the everyday demands, in addition to dealing with this current crisis."

The latest contingency plans were set out by the health secretary including emergency powers of arrest.

Police forces will work with NHS staff including powers to force people to isolate if the outbreak worsens.

But Mr Apter said his members wanted clarity on how they would be expected to deal with the public in that situation.

He said: “While new laws might be necessary, we must have clear guidance for officers about how we deal with people who are affected with the virus. We must ensure that officers dealing with COVID-19 related incidents receive the protection and support they need."  

Mr Apter added: “Police officers will always do their best. They are professional, dedicated people - but behind the uniform they are human beings. They are mums and dads, sons and daughters - this is why we are working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure they get the clear guidance and protections necessary so that they can ensure we are able protect the public.”

The government is also clarifying when officers from the military and nuclear police forces will be drafted in as part of mutual aid plans if the number of frontline officers significantly decreases due to the virus outbreak. They will need to be able to operate force areas where they would not normally have jurisdiction.

The new laws would also bring forward the powers set out by the government at the beginning of the outbreak that would give officers the power to compel the public to go to hospital.

The legislation could go through as early as today but it is part of a package of measures that are being negotiated between the political parties in Westminster.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new powers "will only be used when it is absolutely necessary and must be timed to maximise their effectiveness".

The mechanism for how and when the back-up officers would be deployed is still being agreed with forces.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said it was vital that policing by consent was not impacted by the changes.

APCC Chair Katy Bourne said: “I welcome the enhanced powers announced to strengthen the powers of police and immigration officers. These need to be used proportionately and only when absolutely necessary to do so.

“It is important that police officers are given the tools and powers they need and it is reassuring that the Government has limited the lifespan of this change. During these unprecedented times, PCCs will continue to work closely with Chief Constables, health and other partners to ensure our communities are kept as safe as possible.”

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