Superintendent Sarah Jackson, who heads up Policing on the Isle of Wight, has outlined how the Police will be responding to the coronavirus crisis – but warns that a time may come when ‘serious and difficult decisions’ have to be made as to what officers can – and cannot – respond to.
In a letter to local residents, Superintendent Jackson explains how Hampshire Constabulary have well prepared plans in place and that agencies are working together to keep Islanders safe.
We would like to share with you some valuable information on the Coronavirus and how the Police will be operating during these times of uncertainty.
Superintendent Jackson says:
“I wanted to write to you in these times of an unprecedented civil emergency. Whilst we have not experienced anything of this kind before, I want to re-assure you that we have well prepared structures and plans to deal with the issues this pandemic creates for policing.
“We do know there will be significant disruption to the normal way of life due to the impact on those who care for affected people and those in self-isolation. We also know there will sadly be increased loss of life.
“It is inevitable that we are going to see some of our own officers and staff off work because they are either sick or in isolation. We have plans in place to ensure we maintain our core services, not just within the police but across all public sector services.
“In preparing for this, and as you would expect, all agencies involved are working closely together. A Strategic Co-ordinating Group has been set up which links agencies together. It also links to our local resilience forums, allowing agencies to continuously plan responses together. While we are planning for the worst case scenarios we hope that we manage to control issues stemming from this pandemic at a community level.
“The Isle of Wight Council has launched a dedicated helpline to support those at risk. The number is 01983 823600 and there is more information at the below link – https://www.iow.gov.uk/news/New-helpline-to-support-those-at-risk.
“It is predicted that over the coming months many people could be infected with coronavirus. We are hoping that by following the Public Health England and NHS advice to the public on coronavirus the numbers of people within our communities that may become infected can be lowered.
“Government predictions are that a high percentage of those infected will have minor symptoms, be sick for a very short period or have no symptoms at all, but they will need to be isolated for two weeks as they will be expected to remain infectious for that period. There are many other vulnerable people in our communities who will have to be isolated for longer and will be understandably anxious about this.
“We are working to business contingency plans which ensure all the services are maintained. We have worked out a number of scenarios where differing percentages of our workforce are off sick, in isolation or caring for family members.
“From a policing perspective, there may come a time where serious and difficult decisions may have to be made to maintain a level of service to the public. These will see police forces across the country prioritising what they can (and cannot) attend. This may mean that we would not be able to attend less urgent incidents and may have to deal with them in a different way.
“I want to assure you that our priority remains keeping our communities safe.
“One of the areas I want to highlight to you is cybercrime and the need to remain ever more vigilant to this exploitation and the below links offer advice on avoiding becoming a victim – https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/cyber-experts-step-criminals-exploit-coronavirus.
In addition our website has comprehensive crime prevention advice about different types of fraud – https://www.hampshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/ .
“We have seen a number of hate incidents linked to speculation about coronavirus reported to us in Hampshire and we are engaging with our local communities to encourage such incidents to be reported to us. Any crime perpetuated through ignorance, prejudice or hate is unacceptable. Please report such cases by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency. Reports can also be made online on the Hampshire Constabulary website, through True Vision or using the growing network of Third Party Reporting Centres for hate crime.
Please be assured that Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers are out and about keeping you safe. Please do follow the latest advice from our partners at Public Health England to keep yourself healthy. If you do need our assistance, please contact us on 101 or online via our website www.hampshire.police.uk.