The “pingdemic” isn’t just damaging business and social life, but also the ability of the police to deal with crime. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says that response times are “under strain” due to staff shortages caused by self-isolation rules. 7.3% of police officers and staff are currently absent from work, yet the Government appears to be in no hurry to come up with a solution. Sky News has the story.
The NPCC said that in some forces, functions such as control room operations are being hit by high numbers of absent staff, impacting their ability to respond quickly to calls.
Earlier, one Police and Crime Commissioner warned the public that call response times will rise due to the large amount [number] of people being asked to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive coronavirus case.
Steve Turner of Cleveland Police said the force has had to cancel rest days and annual leave for some officers, as well as bringing in others from different shifts, to fill gaps caused by staff having to quarantine after being close to someone with Covid.
It comes as a leading epidemiologist, who runs the ZOE Covid symptom study, claimed the NHS Covid app is no longer useful.
Professor Tim Spector told Sky News: “I think employers should tell their staff if they feel unwell, they have cold-like symptoms, then they stay away but I don’t think the app saying that someone might have passed them by in a supermarket is actually that useful anymore in the current state of the pandemic.”
He added: “It doesn’t seem to be appropriate at the moment… it seems to be overkill.” …
The Government has dismissed calls to change the sensitivity of the app, but has announced exemptions for a “small number” of fully vaccinated critical workers who are identified as close contacts of coronavirus cases.
Mr Turner called on the Government to test healthy emergency workers daily so they will not automatically be taken off frontline duties.
He told the BBC: “We have got to provide a service. We suddenly find ourselves cancelling rest days and cancelling leave and bringing officers in from other shifts to cover where we have got the gaps.
“However, our call times will go up, we will miss some calls we would normally pick up because we have less resilience in the call centre and all of these things will have a knock-on effect for the Cleveland public.” …
An NPCC spokesman said: “Nationally, the police officer and staff absence rate is 7.3%. However, in some forces some functions, such as control rooms, are experiencing higher levels of absence.
“Absence rates in control rooms affect a police force’s ability to respond promptly to calls from the public, in particular emergency calls.
“Police forces affected are guiding the public on how to contact the police while they are under strain. We are engaging with Government about how to best resolve this issue.”
Worth reading in full.