A SENSIBLE and pragmatic approach should mean that officers should not be expected to work on their rest days to cover increased demand once lockdown is eased further, Hampshire Police Federation has said.
From Saturday 4 July pubs, restaurants and other businesses will re-open in the county.
Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge said the force had planned thoroughly for the next phase of lockdown easing, and that so far officers are “coping really well”.
He said: “The officers’ concerns are, ‘Are we prepared for it?’ But I’m confident from speaking to the force that they’ve really thought it out. They’ve got some real data-led decision making and there’s not any knee-jerking. Also we’re not going to disproportionately impact officers.”
He said that the force was engaging with local pubs and restaurants to make sure they were prepared for the demand so that the police “don’t make up for shortfalls” in the venues’ planning.
As senior police leaders are predicting a particularly busy summer, Alex said he was pleased that the force was planning to use officers who were on-duty and move them around to cover the increased demand, rather than relying on enforced rest-day working.
He said: “Historically I think we throw police resources at some things on a ‘just in case’ basis. The impact that has on officers is that they get their rest days cancelled and they’re forced to work in the summer when actually they’d much rather be at home with their family and loved ones.
“I hope that won’t happen. I don’t think it will happen. And all the conversations I’ve had with different people in the forces that we’re going to try and avoid that and take a sensible and pragmatic approach to the reopening.
“There’s lots of planning going on based on the demand that we had last year. Last year we had significant amounts of demand and had to go to mutual aid for all sorts of things over the summer. So we’ve got a good idea of what a busy summer looks like.”
Alex admitted that there was still some uncertainty, particularly for officers who were planning to take summer holidays abroad and whether they would have to go into quarantine afterwards.
He also said there was confusion about what the new Government guidelines meant for policing, for instance changing the two-metre distance rule to one-metre.