Police chiefs warn response times may be hit by staff absences as Covid self-isolation numbers rise
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Police response times are being affected as some forces experience “higher levels of absence”, it has been suggested.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that in some forces, functions such as control room operations are seeing higher staff absences than the national police absence rate, which is 7.3%.
The NPCC said this has an impact on a force’s ability to respond quickly to calls from the public.
An NPCC spokesman said: “Nationally, the police officer and staff absence rate is 7.3%. However, in some forces some functions, such as control rooms, are experiencing higher levels of absence.
“Absence rates in control rooms affect a police force’s ability to respond promptly to calls from the public, in particular emergency calls.
“Police forces affected are guiding the public on how to contact the police while they are under strain. We are engaging with Government about how to best resolve this issue.”
‘We’re also seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases and self-isolation across the workforce’
The comments came after one police and crime commissioner warned the public that call response times will rise due to the so-called “pingdemic”, as thousands of people are being told to self-isolate as Covid infections rise.
Steve Turner of Cleveland Police said the force has had to cancel rest days and annual leave for some officers, as well as bringing in others from different shifts, in order to fill gaps caused by staff having to self-isolate following close contact with someone with Covid-19.
The force declined to say how many officers were off after being alerted by the Test and Trace app.
A spokesperson said: “We’re seeing an increase in demand on requests for service due to the heatwave, restrictions being lifted and the school holidays.
“We’re also seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases and self-isolation across the workforce which is having an impact on the front line.
“We have put swift plans in place to ensure that we can respond to the most vulnerable in our communities and deal with 999 emergencies, however the public may experience delays in call answering for non-emergency incidents and we’re asking people to use the website to report or ask for advice if they are able.
“For operational reasons we don’t provide the details of current levels of sickness as part of our overall strategy to keep the public safe from interested criminals.”