The Ministry of Defence Police is planning for all eventualities in response to the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
The Defence Police Federation says it is in constant dialogue with the Force about the potential role MDP officers might have regarding the overall Defence effort and any assistance to other police forces as the situation changes and develops.
And while such support to UK policing is unclear at this point in time, at the moment it’s about ensuring officers’ can deploy safely to their routine role, whilst any concerns about the virus are addressed, Eamon Keating DPF Chairman said.
“How heavily COVID-19 impacts on the UK population will have a direct impact on the number of police officers available across the UK, so it is possible that we may be asked to augment and help out our colleagues in other police forces,” Eamon said.
“It’s a national emergency, and so a Mutual Aid style deployment could well occur, like we saw after the attacks at Westminster and Manchester. This isn’t a terrorist situation, but an unarmed policing response may be a similar requirement across the country.
“The current situation is concerning, both from a personal level for individuals, and from an operational level for our officers and for the work that we do.
“As a Federation, we are meeting with the Force every single day. Our General Secretary, Mitch Batt is attending a meeting, either by dial-in or in person, with our Force Headquarters every morning and we are constantly engaged with the Force across all aspects, including training and operations, looking at how this virus is going to impact on our ability to deliver policing services for the critical sites where we are deployed.”
“Thankfully we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time, but that situation could obviously change over the coming weeks” Eamon said. “And as we move forward, the impact of COVID-19 is going to increase quite dramatically for all of us.
“The Force is reviewing the situation at all of our stations on a daily basis and is planning for all eventualities so that we continue to protect the UK’s Defence capability and the key sites where our officers are located. This will inevitably impact on individual officers and the Force will prioritise its’ policing operations accordingly.”
Eamon added: “The MDP has a great track record with responding positively to requests for assistance to other police forces and we will play our part in the national policing response to COVID-19.
“As the situation unfolds, given the close cooperation with the Force, we will work together to make sure that the issues which are paramount to our officers around welfare and safety have a high priority.”
For now, officers are being reminded to lean on the Federation should they have any concerns.
“We would ask members to follow Government guidelines,” Eamon said.
“Make sure that you try to keep everywhere that you work safe and keep yourself and your colleagues safe.
“Keep a reasonable distance between people where you can and let’s make sure that we all do our bit to keep communal areas clean and tidy.
“If for any reason you have a concern for you or your family, then you need to take the proper precautions. If you’ve got any real concerns, then speak with your line manager and let the Federation know.
“We’re here 24 hours a day, and we will assist where you need it.”