More than 200 Lancashire police officers receive coronavirus testing, while Commissioner praises force and residents for approach to social distancing

Lancashire’s top police watchdog has been hearing how the county’s force is coping with the demands of the coronavirus lockdown.

By Phil Cunnington
Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 5:00 pm

Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw met the Chief Constable to discuss Lancashire Constabulary’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, and revealed that more than 200 officers have received testing for coronavirus.

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: “The fact Covid-19 is happening doesn’t stop us from doing our day job.

“In fact we have put huge efforts into increasing our proactive work which is getting us some good results. Our staff are still out there – fighting crime, protecting victims and tackling anti-social behaviour. Importantly, we are still getting to the public quickly when they need us the most.”

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Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw

He added: “Thanks to the support of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary we’ve been able to provide early testing availability here in Lancashire for officers and staff, enabling early support to our workforce prior to the national testing provision being rolled out.

“I’m pleased to say over 250 of our officers and staff have been triaged or tested during Covid-19 so far providing clarity and confidence for them in their personal situation.”

Mr Grunshaw and Chief Constable Rhodes both praised the way the vast majority of Lancashire’s residents have responded to the Government measures, which has seen a 60 per cent reduction in traffic on Lancashire’s roads. However, with the fine weather continuing, police continue their support of the Covid-19 measures and “pro-active” patrols of hot spot areas.

Asked by the Commissioner about Covid-19 policing, the Chief Constable confirmed that officers follow the national 4E model – engage, encourage, explain and, if needed, enforcement.

The session took place virtually and was arranged as part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s regular scrutiny of the force. It covered a wide range of issues including those raised by members of the public, including call handling and response times; help for potential victims of domestic abuse or child exploitation and the increased use of online reporting, particularly for reports of parties and those not observing the restrictions on movement.

Mr Grunshaw said: “Given the unique period we find ourselves going through, I decided it was important to hold a formal scrutiny session with the Chief Constable to understand how the service is coping with Covid-19, whilst also maintaining the vital and proactive policing services it delivers every day.

“As ever, my role on behalf of the public, is to engage with the Chief Constable and his team as both a critical friend and to support the huge amount of work that is underway to keep people safe and feeling safe, balancing positive engagement with local communities with a response to those who break the law, whilst working in close partnership with LRF in supporting the response to vulnerable people in the community.

“What is very clear, is that the Chief Constable and I are united in our view of how we should police the Covid-19 crisis, particularly with regard to social distancing rules, with the Lancashire model of local policing at the heart of our approach.

“Officers have not hesitated to use the new powers robustly when faced with the relatively small number of people who have ignored the rules, because they are exposing themselves and the wider community to risk. That approach has my full support.

“However, it is also vital that we maintain the operational delivery of daily policing, dealing with the challenges and harm that have not gone away, despite some inevitable reductions in crime. Our normal priorities have not been abandoned – so as well as helping in the emergency response, Lancashire has maintained the priority of responding effectively to victims of domestic abuse, antisocial behaviour, concerns for safety and the myriad other calls on their time. And members of my team are maintaining their support for that work.”