Over 600 Derbyshire police staff were self-isolating at pandemic's peak

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 600 police officers and staff were self-isolating.

This is around one in every six force employees.

The 626 figure includes police and crime commissioner staff. The PCC has 21 staff.

As of Monday, June 15, this figure has nearly halved to 334 staff and officers “not in the organisation”.

The figures have been published as part of a report from Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, to Derbyshire County Council.

It details that: “The office of the police and crime commissioner and force took early action to ensure staff and officers were able to keep themselves safe and observe social distancing.

“Any non-essential staff who were able to have been working from home and the force have closely monitored the number of people who were either off sick, or who were shielding, self-isolating or caring for people who were sick.

“It should be noted that whilst people may be absent from the workplace this does not necessarily mean they are not able to work.

“Of those staff and officers not at work due to Covid-19, just over 87 per cent are working from home.

“At the very beginning of the pandemic the force were planning for significantly higher levels of sickness and absenteeism and it is through the decisive work it has undertaken we have been able to reduce sickness levels from their initial peak and continue to drive the number down.”

At the beginning of the pandemic Mr Dhindsa had told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he was expecting a third of the force to be self-isolating either through illness or to shield a loved one.

Superintendent Steve Pont, who has led the force’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said: “The current situation that the country finds itself in has had a huge impact on the way in which officers and staff work.

“As rules came into effect around social distancing the force took a fast, proactive approach to ensuring the safety of those working for the constabulary.

“One of the ways in which this was done was by enabling the workforce, wherever possible, to work from home – meaning those who were not able to were given adequate space in which to socially distance in their places of work.

“Some officers, such as detectives, are able to work from home in a much easier manner due to the nature of their work. However, for officers out on the streets of Derbyshire this is obviously not possible.

“In order to protect officers, the force has put in place strict health safeguards – with tens of thousands of face masks and litres of hand gel purchased to help ensure the safety of officers and maintain the ability to provide a policing presence across the county.

“Throughout the crisis the force has kept daily checks on the number of absences through illness, self-isolation or for any other reason, and ensured that shifts are adequately staffed.

“Through all those safeguards, the diligence of officers in their sanitation and the hard work of our colleagues in the NHS, the force has managed the demands placed upon it over the past months.

“It has been incredibly difficult with the demand placed on officers and staff, both professionally and personally, on a level we have never seen before.

“The manner in which the constabulary has stepped up to the plate has been quite simply remarkable. To move with such speed is testament to the incredible people we have within the organisation and it has been a privilege to lead the response and see the very best of our people in such a testing time.”

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