Statement from Chief Constable Andy Cooke on our commitment to keeping our communities safe in these unprecedented times
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In the last few weeks we have all been coming to terms with the fact that we are going to see considerable changes to our daily lives, which will have a significant impact on our civil and social liberties.
But we have to make these changes for the greater good to ensure that we don’t enable further spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The changes we have seen are unprecedented, but necessary and some will seem unnatural and harsh to many of us.
How difficult is it not to be able to hug a family member who may be distressed by what is happening; to have to cancel the dream wedding you have planned for; and not be able to visit loved ones in hospital for fear that you could pass on the virus. For young people who have been revising and preparing for the GCSEs and A-levels it must be really frustrating. But the Government is doing what it can to mitigate the impact where it can and put things in place to support people and businesses who are affected by the latest measures.
There isn’t one person in the country who isn’t affected by these changes and that includes the police officers and staff who work for us here at Merseyside Police. They and their families, like everyone else, have the same fears and worries as their neighbours and their communities and we do understand what people are going through.
There are still a lot of unknowns and a lot of questions to be asked and that is why the Government and Public Health England are providing information through daily media briefings. We understand that there is a lot of information for people to take in and understand and a lot of uncertainty.
For that reason I want to take this opportunity to reassure the communities of Merseyside that the force will endeavour to do everything it possibly can to deliver the best possible service during these unprecedented times. And one thing I know about my officers and staff is their desire to help and do everything they can to keep you safe.
We work closely with partner organisations across the county including local councils, hospital trusts, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, North West Regional Ambulance Service and many other partners to ensure our emergency planning and contingency plans are fit for purpose during times such as these.
Admittedly, what we are going through now is unprecedented and as such I have no doubt that during the coming months there will be learning for all of us. But I can promise that we will be doing everything we possibly can to keep the public of Merseyside safe until we return to a state of normality.
There will be some things that we may have to do in the weeks going forward which won’t be popular. The emergency Coronvirus Bill that was passed this week contains a raft of measures for different agencies to contain the spread of the virus. Public support and compliance is crucial and within the legislation the Government has given the police and immigration officers powers to detain a person, for a limited period, who is, or may be, infectious and to take them to a suitable place to enable screening and assessment.
These powers will only be used if absolutely necessary and if an individual is putting other members of the public at risk of contracting the virus by not complying with the Government restrictions.
The majority of officers and staff who work for Merseyside Police live and work in the area, their children go to local schools and they use local facilities, therefore like the public they have a vested interest in the communities of Merseyside and will do all they can to protect those communities, prevent crime and preserve life.
This week the Government announced that schools will close, but children of key workers will be provided with facilities at the schools. Key workers will include those who work in the health service, emergency services (Police, Fire and Ambulance Services) and that enables me to ensure that our officers and staff are still able to come in to work to deliver an effective policing service for our communities and keep you safe.
There is a tough road ahead for all of us, and I don’t underestimate the challenges and impact this will have on my officers, staff and their families in the coming months, but I know that their overwhelming desire to make a difference and support our communities will be their driving force when times are hard.
Undoubtedly, some officers and staff, may themselves come down with the virus, but we have put plans in place for this and are taking every precaution to ensure our staff have the right equipment and hygiene advice.
To help us keep you safe we all need to work together and we need you to work with us. To help our call handlers prioritise incidents properly I would urge members of the public who want to report a non-urgent crime to use our online reporting services on our website https://www.merseyside.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/ , or direct message us @MerPolCC