Police officers 'exhausted' as 'pingdemic' takes its toll

The Police Federation says frontline officers and staff in Hampshire are "exhausted" as the effects of the 'pingdemic' are taking its toll.

It says at its height in the county, 100 officers and staff were having to isolate every day because they had been contacted by the NHS test and trace app.

Although those numbers have now come down, the Federation says police continue to face increased pressure because of high demand on the force.

Zoe Wakefield, Chair of the Hampshire Police Federation said: "It was quite worrying last month when we had those huge numbers. Fortunately it's changed a bit now.

"We've only got 50 officers and staff off now self isolating so the picture is a lot better but officers are working so hard. There just aren't enough officers to cope with demand.

Ms Wakefield adds that officers that have been isolating have been able to carry out task at home.

She said: "Fortunately the force has been quite agile in being able to get those officers to still work. So they're doing enquiries they can do on their computer and online. So they're still supporting the frontline officers."

When asked by ITV Meridian about the mood surrounding police pay Ms Wakefield said that officers felt 'completely unappreciated'.

She added: "They [the government] have given the pay award, quite rightly, to the NHS, and also to firefighters and local government workers. We don't understand why we've been ignored."

In a statement Hampshire Police said: "Our current absence rate is below the national average and the number of officers and staff we have self-isolating due to COVID is not impacting on our service to the public.

"If the number of staff and officers self-isolating was to increase to a level that we believe would affect our service to the public, we have the capability to make testing available for officers that allows them to be released from self-isolation for the purposes of carrying out their duty.

"However at this time our absence rate is below any area of concern."

Dorset Police officers on patrol Credit: ITV News Meridian

Meanwhile in Dorset, more than 170 members of staff at Dorset Police were forced to isolate during a single week in July.

Some staff who were pinged via the NHS app were required to carry on working to provide a safe level of service.

The number of staff isolating has now dropped to less than 40.

Dorset's Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: "It is important to note that colleagues were and still are expected to follow Government guidance to self-isolate for the relevant period outside of work. I would like to thank all those officers and staff who did return to work for their professionalism and commitment.

"Many of our police staff who work in non-frontline roles have been working from home throughout the pandemic so any impact on self-isolation rules have been negated by this existing policy."