POLICE and Crime Commissioner David Keane is calling on the government to make personal protection equipment (PPE) available for all public sector workers and volunteers at risk of contracting coronavirus.
This call follows the successful delivery of initial PPE to police officers this week following a virtual meeting between Policing Minster Kit Malthouse MP, Mr Keane and fellow PCCs, where the case was pressed strongly for immediate PPE provision to policing.
The Policing Minster assured PCCs that there was national effort to coordinate the distribution of PPE amongst police forces but that the distribution of PPE for other public services would be coordinated locally.
The Commissioner has spoken to local council leaders and chief executives about concerns that the distribution of PPE could come down to a ‘postcode lottery’ with certain areas potentially not receiving enough equipment.
He wants to see the government extend this national coordination effort to all public sector services and their volunteers to ensure everyone on the frontline is protected against the disease.
Mr Keane said: “I am pleased that the government is now addressing the issue of providing initial PPE for our brave police officers and NHS staff and this needs to continue, but we know there continues to be a shortage of the vital equipment in other sectors and for volunteers supporting our key workers.
“Some of those supporting our key services are putting themselves and their families at risk by working within our communities with little or no protection against the virus.
“Every key worker who catches the virus is a potential spreader of this deadly disease. The more key workers who catch the virus, the greater strain it puts on our already stretched pubic services.
“We need the government to commit to protecting all of our key workers as they work to protect our communities.”
The Commissioner would also like to see a government backed scheme which helps police officers identify volunteers supporting essential services or vulnerable people in our communities.
“Those supporting our communities may be visiting supermarkets or leaving their homes on a regular basis to fulfill their voluntary roles.
“I would like to see some recognition of these roles so police officers and supermarket workers do not question a person’s whereabouts if they see a member of the community leaving the house on a regular basis.
“This could be a pass or a notice to be displayed in the individuals’ car which details their role and how they are supporting the community.”
As part of his response to coronavirus, the Commissioner has also launched an emergency fund for community groups to apply for grant of up to £1,000 to help them support the coronavirus effort in their community.
More information about this fund can be found on the Commissioner’s website: https://www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk/what-i-do/making-cheshire-safer/safer-communities-fund/