WEST Midlands Police chief has said officers are “scaling down some aspects of community engagement” to co-ordinate an agency response to the covid-19 pandemic – but “policing will continue as normal”.
Under new temporary emergency measures set out in the government’s coronavirus bill this week police have been given powers to detain those suspected to having covid-19 and putting them in appropriate isolation facilities if necessary “to protect public health”.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson last night (Tuesday March 17) issued a statement saying it was “the right time to set out the policing’s position and the help we all need from the public” during the coronavirus outbreak.
He said: “Over the last few days we have all been coming to terms with the enormous impact covid-19 will have on our way of life. It is a frightening time with thoughts focused on those we love and care for and our broader community.
“This is a health-led major incident and our colleagues from the NHS and Public Heath are doing an amazing job.
“The police play an important coordinating role in major incidents.We are now acting as coordinators for the strategic and operational coordination of the many agencies that will work together to deal with this. We are doing this work across the West Midlands and Warwickshire.
“There are multi-agency plans for dealing with pandemics and we are all coordinating our response. One of the main functions of this will be to keep you informed on the local response.
“Policing continues as normal. There was much media speculation on the police response. We have a gradual plan for changing the services we offer that we will implement based upon events.
“We use this at periods of peak demand already. You can expect we will scale down some aspects of community engagement to focus on those that are now critical. Minor anti-social behaviour issues will receive a different response. We may also need to deal with more reports over the phone. We will tell you what we are changing at each stage.”
He said up-to-date messages were available by signing up to West Midlands Police’s community messaging system – WMNow – as well as following the police on Facebook or Twitter.
On self-isolation he said: “The public are being sensible and we are aware of people offering to help those isolating. Please keep this up…we all need to look after each other.
“We do all need to be sensible on our shopping.
“Do try to report things through our Live Chat or online reporting rather than calling us if you can. We tend to be quieter earlier in the day or late at night so if it can wait, try to call when we are less busy. “Always call 999 in an emergency.
“Beware of scammers
“As the elderly and vulnerable self-isolate, they can be at risk of scams. We won’t send you emails with links for information.
“If someone comes to the door and you are unsure if they are the police ask for ID. If you remain unsure then ask them to wait whilst you phone us to check their details.
“All our staff – from our operational officers to our mechanics and cleaners – are essential to keep West Midlands Police on the road.
“Any help and kindness you can offer to make their jobs easier or home life stable will ensure we can keep protecting you. Thank you for all you are doing as a community.”