Several Bedfordshire Police officers test positive for Covid-19

Police Federation says officers are in “constant worry” of offenders spitting or coughing

By Clare Turner
Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 4:16 pm

Several Bedfordshire Police officers have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began, new figures show.

The Police Federation says officers across the country are in “constant worry” when faced with offenders who may spit, bite and cough while being dealt with.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request from Bedfordshire Police show a total of six police officers have tested positive for the virus.

Police Federation says officers are in “constant worry” of offenders spitting or coughing

The force's records are up to October 26.

Those with positive tests were five police constables and one sergeant.

Bedfordshire Police's chief superintendent John Murphy said: “As a force, the safety of our officers and staff is paramount. All officers are to wear face coverings when double crewed, and to socially distance where possible.

“Policing is a unique role, our officers on the frontline are faced with the dangers of coronavirus on a daily basis, so it is difficult to avoid, however the number of officers that have tested positive remains low. Police officers are human too, they live at home with their families and therefore face the same risks of infection in those settings as members of the general public.

“To ensure our officers remain vigilant, and do not contribute to spreading the virus, we provide the opportunity for them to get tested weekly.

“Away from the frontline, our officers and staff are encouraged to work from home where possible and face coverings must be worn in all corridors and communal areas.

“Please play your part in helping to keep Bedfordshire safe, by staying at home where possible and following the recent government guidance.”

Nationally, at least 849 police officers have tested positive at the 26 forces in the UK which answered a Freedom of Information Act request.

In August, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing issued new guidance to police forces on the use of personal protective equipment.

Advice was also given on social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures, but it was accepted that maintaining a two-metre distance was not always possible.

Chairman of the Police Federation, John Apter, said it was “inevitable” some officers would catch the virus given their nature of work.

But he added: “There is also the constant worry of bringing the virus home to their loved ones which is exacerbated when they deal with offenders who weaponise the virus by spitting, biting and coughing - which is disgusting and unacceptable.

“People need to realise that behind the uniform, officers are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.”

Mr Apter urged the public “not to give up now” on combating the virus and to follow latest guidelines to reduce its spread.