As the first day of school closures is enforced in Scotland, we are acutely aware of issues being raised by officers and staff throughout the 32 different local authority areas in relation to care arrangements for key workers’ children.
This provision is being led by local authorities and we do not have all the answers to hand in terms of what this support looks like for you as an individual.
However, please be assured that we are doing all we can to gather information, gain much-needed clarity and support you as best we can in the meantime.
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr has been leading on this today and has discussed the situation with the Chief Constable, who is also very clear that we need to show flexibility with officers and staff over working arrangements, particularly in the coming week until we get a clearer picture of the challenges faced.
Our priority over the coming days is to assess the impact local authority childcare provision is having on our overall capacity across the country, to capture that information meaningfully and use it to engage with Scottish Government and others to make the case for consistent support to police officers and staff.
You can help with this by completing a survey created by the Scottish Police Federation to capture how the schools situation will affect our police officers and staff. I would encourage you to complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5NMZC2P
It is, of course, vital that all managers display a common sense approach in what is a particularly difficult time for us all.
I don’t think I need to stress just how crucial it is that we maintain our resilience over this critical period so that we can continue to deliver a policing service to communities across Scotland.
Divisions and departments are asked to be as flexible as possible to support childcare commitments. We need to do right by the people who have already shown professionalism and dedication to serve our communities during this pandemic.
Local Commanders and heads of department should use their discretion to get the appropriate balance between maintaining our operational resilience with supporting staff for whom there simply is no alternative for childcare.
I appreciate that this issue in particular causes real anxiety and frustration, but please know that we are doing everything we can to help and support our officers and staff whilst maintaining effective policing services across Scotland.
I know that another issue of major concern has been access to PPE.
We have already been making better use of the small number of PPE-trained officers we have by moving some Operational Support Division officers into response teams to deal with COVID-19 related calls, and those teams will increase in number in the coming days.
We are now expecting a further delivery of FFP3 masks this week which will allow us to extend the provision of PPE to include the Flexible Response Unit to ensure a 24/7 service is available.
All officers being fitted with FFP3 masks will need to be clean shaven for the fitting appointment and are required to remain so as we continue to respond to the impact of coronavirus.
A lot has changed in the space of just one weekend and we are continuing to find ways of supporting local policing and other crucial frontline roles. Once again, I would like to thank you all sincerely for your efforts and patience as we navigate this unprecedented, challenging, and rapidly changing situation.
Malcolm Graham, Deputy Chief Constable - Crime and Operations, Operation Talla Gold Commander