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Interview: South Wales Chief Constable Matt Jukes

The Chief Constable of South Wales Police talks to Police Oracle about managing sickness levels, distributing PPE and getting new recruits through their training

CC Jukes said that despite small adjustments the force is delivering the same service to the public as before. 

As of yesterday (27 March) 13 per cent of the officer workforce were off through self-isolation or sickness. Normal levels are around four and a half to five per cent. 

But crime reports are down as much as 20 per cent. The force has had a reduction in call volume overall, especially more urgent calls.

CC Jukes said most of the public recognise “there’s a war on here” and he was really proud of the way “the people of South Wales have played their part in it”.

In regard to the new powers given to officers to enforce the lock-down, CC Jukes said: “We are effectively dealing with the unusual in the usual way which is really decent, humane communication, common sense and discretion.

“On an ordinary Friday night in Cardiff or Swansea when people were out having a good night we would have officers talking to them about how they did that safely and how to make sure they did it within the law.”

On officer welfare, CC Jukes said: “The really impressive thing about police officers, staff, PCSOs and Special Constables is that they go out every day and face threats. This an invisible threat which has its sinister connotations, but my colleagues are amazing at going out every day and putting the public first. 

“They continue to do that with real pride and professionalism.”

The force has already been able to test some officers for Covid-19 and thousands of personal issue packs of PPE are currently being distributed around the workforce and every officer on the frontline will receive one, he said.

There has been talk among other forces of housing officers elsewhere if members of their household are in the high-risk group for the virus.

South Wales Police is currently in conversations with universities and other accommodation providers about what beds are not being used to “understand how that might be possible if we require it”.

CC Jukes is aware of many colleagues going through “really disruptive personal circumstances” to make sure they can continue coming to work and safeguard family members at the same time by living with family or friends. 

He said “incredibly generous offers” were being made through a Facebook for people in the force. 

Training for the force’s initial new recruits - 69 of who started this week - is going ahead. CC Jukes said they may get to a point where some training would need to be slowed or paused but they were “really concerned to make sure that the needs of the workforce later in the year are met”. 

He said: “We have people in training now who by the autumn can be out on the streets playing a part, either responding to this challenge if it’s still with us or reinforcing the officers and staff who have been dealing with this really difficult spring and probably inevitably a difficult summer as well."

He went on to say: “We are really quite determined to try to protect particularly our initial recruits training and we'll have to be responsible with the health of everybody concerned. It also has to be responsible of for the needs of the public too. This is to make sure that you know the police service is well resourced.”

Some of the South Wales senior team are remote working. Others have been split across different locations to spend as much time as possible with frontline colleagues.

CC Jukes said: “Our patterns of work have been sort of tipped on their head to some extent. And I'm sure when we get to the other side of this, we'll be able to reflect on what we've learned from that. 

CC Jukes went on to say: “We certainly really pushed our use of technology. And I think we're finding what is what works well in the use of technology and video conferencing and remote working and we're finding where it is isn't a substitute, but people are very creative, aren't they?”

He added: “But at the moment, we are really just in the thick of it."

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