A great deal has happened since my last message. I think a great deal more may happen and I want to use this blog to prepare ourselves.
I cannot emphasise enough on the need for workplace hygiene. Washing hands properly, every two hours. Clean desks and workspaces. I have asked Commanders and Heads of Department to do captain’s rounds! If you do not have cleaning materials, tell them. This is everyone’s job.
PPE has been issued. We have good stocks compared to other sectors but we cannot be sure when we can replenish. You must use gel, gloves and face masks wisely. Keep clothing and vehicles clean.
We are tracking staff who are off work through sickness, self-isolation or social distancing. The numbers have increased. Occupational Health can advise on whether staff fall into these criteria. If you do you MUST go home and social distance. It is not a choice. Leaders can take advice from Occupational Health as conditions such as asthma can be very wide and not everyone falls into this group.
Our IT&D colleagues are doing a great job and have issued an additional 500 laptops. These initially went to those self-isolating who were well. Everyone does an important job at WMP but some jobs are mission critical at this moment and we are prioritising who gets them. We have more on the way. If you have a mobile unit and are self-isolating but well we may ask you to carry out some tasks for us by phone. Senior leaders are developing these plans.
Be very careful on IT. These are the precisely the times hackers will try to infect our systems to create problems. Keep IT security high and watch out for emails with links. Report suspicious communications. This is important for home workers. There are viruses other than Corona you can pass on.
We have also started to make some early adjustment to services. We have fewer staff available so early adjustments are now necessary as we start moving to a different set of priorities as we gear up.
Now for the gear up.
This is potentially the biggest challenge in the history of West Midlands Police. We face a hidden disease that could hit communities very hard but also our own people. In addition we are all worried for friends and family. We all face risk.
We have declared a major incident in the West Midlands. We hope the measures underway reduce the death count but this could be substantial and we now need to consider a number of challenges:
As you can see some of these jobs may be very tough. We may be under the stress of delivering for the public while worrying about sick loved ones. At critical times when you want to come in and help you may have to isolate. We may need you to do a very different job. This may be a very tough mission and go on for many months. Our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing may be tested.
In a world of uncertainty I have no doubt we will rise to this challenge.
Two points to end on.
There are some lovely gestures of free fuel, food and drinks for emergency workers. It is so lovely to know that we are appreciated. While we may have some elevated risk it worth reflecting on those who are suffering. The huge impact on businesses does mean people will lose their jobs and firms will close. We all want this to be over and get back to what will perhaps be a new normal. We need these business to be open. We may have a tough job ahead but you can be certain you will have a job, others won’t. Try to spend money with our local businesses.
Finally, we won the lottery! The Lockup at Steel house lane has been awarded the funds we need by the Heritage Lottery Fund to become our permanent museum. Now that is something to look forward to seeing.