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Coronavirus: Guidance on personal protective equipment issued to police forces

09 Apr 2020

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing have issued guidance to police forces on the use of personal protective equipment.

Interpreting the existing Public Health England (PHE) guidance issued to first responders and working with government experts, the NPCC has produced scenario specific operational guidance applying to the unique role of the police.

The guidance confirms that social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures remain the most effective ways of avoiding transmission or catching Covid-19. However, it recognises that police officers are more likely to be involved in situations where they may not be able achieve social distancing of two metres.

It recommends:

  • In situations where close contact with the public is likely and social distancing is not available and possible risk of infection exists, the guidance recommends to officers and staff that fluid resistant surgical mask and gloves are worn.
  • Enhanced protective equipment of aprons and goggles should also be worn in situations where social distancing is not available and the individual is showing symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Masks and gloves do not need to be worn on routine patrol.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Wellbeing, Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said:

“The safety of our staff and officers is the number one priority of every chief constable. We must protect our people in order for them to protect the public.

“Police forces are providing additional guidance and clarity to officers and staff about how they use protective equipment to reduce the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus as they go about their roles.

“The guidance aims to reduce the risk of infection for officers, staff and the public, which in turn helps us to safely police the streets and protects the NHS. 

“In an incredibly fast moving situation, we are working closely with government and experts to make sure we have accurate up to date advice reflecting the unique circumstances our officers and staff work in.

“We have sufficient stocks of personal protective equipment for all forces and have established a reliable supply chain to ensure it  is available to forces in the quantities needed.

“To members of the public, you may see officers and staff wearing masks and gloves in certain situations where there is a risk of transmission. This is to protect you and them, and contribute to the collective effort to protect the NHS and save lives.”

Officers will be required to risk assess each situation they are faced with, as they already do every day, to decide what PPE is appropriate in their circumstances.

Police Federation of England and Wales National Chair, John Apter said:

“The public should not be concerned if they, on occasions, see police officers wearing face masks or gloves, this is not only about protecting colleagues it’s also about protecting the public. Policing is dangerous and unpredictable but every measure must be taken to keep officers as safe as possible. Face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers are the absolute basic we would expect our colleagues to be provided with in this current crisis.

“My colleagues are also encouraged to continually risk assess their interactions with the public and each other and use the PPE they deem appropriate under the circumstances. This will help to ensure the resilience of the police service and the further protection of the public and NHS throughout this pandemic.”

The Guidance is hosted on the College of Policing website.