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Chief constable says thank you to everyone for sacrifices made during pandemic

July 19, 2021
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As the lid finally lifts today after 16 months of restrictions following the country's worst pandemic in living history, the chief constable has paid tribute to the public for the sacrifices made.

In late March last year the country went into lockdown after a surge of coronavirus infections.

People were made to stay at home and isolate and only come out for exercise once or twice a day.

Families were kept apart. Children could not go to school and business were shut. 

Shelves were stripped bare in supermarkets as the country ground to a halt to fight the invisible plague sweeping the nation.

New rules were quickly invented to ensure people stayed put, in a desperate bid to halt the deadly virus in its tracks and stop the death toll mounting.

The NHS was left reeling only able to cope with the rising infection rates as it would be months before a vaccination was available to manage the effects of the virus.

Police were asked to step up and make sure the public stuck to the rules, in order to ensure everyone stayed healthy and well. This was uncharted territory for forces and leaders knew a balance had to be struck which managed to keep people safe while still ensuring there was public trust and confidence in the police.

Chief Constable Craig Guildford, who leads the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) which led the partnership approach throughout the pandemic, said: “When we look back in history and we tell our grandchildren what we lived through people will not believe us. 

“But in true British style we got on with it, rolled our sleeves up and made sure we all did our bit. 

“I am so gratified by the way Nottinghamshire people, the NHS, our councils, the public sector and our incredible voluntary services have stepped up and played their part. This can be reflected in the very small number of tickets we had to give out to people who deliberately flouted the rules in the beginning. It was always expected there would be a few, but the vast, vast majority of people did the right thing and followed the rules.

“We stuck to our four Es – engage, explain, encourage and only as a last resort enforce.

“As the rules started to change we saw slight fluctuations, and where this happened we dealt with these situations quickly, but by and large people were keen to follow the rules, throughout the various lockdowns as we have had to deal with.

“I know everyone keeps saying these are unprecedented times, but they really are. Now we have the chance to be able to live without the restrictions once again, as we slowly limp back to some form of normality as a society.

“I, like everyone else I am sure, am grateful we have got to this point, and I am sure we will all enjoy our liberty. But please still think about others as you go about your business and keep on with the way you have handled this so far by limiting the spread of the virus.”

He added as an emergency service the challenge for police was two-fold in that they needed to ensure the rules were adhered to while also making sure the force as an organisation was able to function.

“There was a real sense of trepidation at the beginning,” added Mr Guildford. “No one knew just how bad the impact of the virus was going to be and there were predictions that services like ours could be serious affected, in terms of people being ill and even deaths.

“We had to quickly adapt the way we worked to ensure maximum safety for all our officers and staff, as it was vital as an emergency service we stayed fit and well so we could serve our communities who needed us to be there for them now more than ever before.

“I am so proud of the way my officers and staff rose to this challenge, embraced it and made it all work. And as a result the impact has been kept to a minimum and we have been able to keep up some excellent work fighting crime while still keeping people safe and well.”

Despite the challenges, the force has seen crime fall by a fifth over the last financial year as it targeted resources into proactively tackling offenders.

The force has continued to deliver business as usual to the best of its ability to its communities’ despite the constant challenges posed by the pandemic.

The work has included extensive changes to working practices, including ensuring workplaces are Covid-19 secure and the introduction of virtual remand hearings, as well as quickly responding to changes in Government legislation to keep people safe and stop the spread of the virus.

The force’s relentless work in helping to protect the public has included regular high-visibility Operation Bion patrols, involving officers engaging with people, educating them about the Covid-19 regulations and encouraging people to follow them.

Mr Guildford added: “Departments across the force have really stepped up to the challenge of dealing with the pandemic – including our public protection team who won national acclaim for their innovative work to safeguard domestic abuse victims during lockdown, the neighbourhood and Operation Reacher teams who have helped support local communities with things like food parcel deliveries, but also the teams such as response, operational support, tactical support group and many others who have carried on the business-as-usual proactive and reactive policing work that has driven down crime during these unprecedented times and kept Nottinghamshire safe. 

“Thankfully, Nottinghamshire Police is full of people who will always do whatever they can to continue to protect the communities they serve - even when they themselves have been personally affected by the virus. 

“Everyone has responded in an exemplary way and helped us to be able to deliver the best possible service we can to protect the public and keep people safe during these difficult times.”

During the pandemic, people have had to adapt on an ongoing basis to changes in the legislation, from national lockdowns to different parts of the country being impacted by different levels of restrictions during the tier system. 

Behind the scenes, local agencies have joined forces like never before, working closely together to make all the national and local infrastructure changes possible, from vaccine delivery and legislation enforcement, to key communications to keep the public updated. This has included close working between police, fire, health services, local authorities and universities through the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire LRF.

Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council, echoed Mr Guildford’s praise for local communities. 

He said: “I would like to thank the people of Nottinghamshire for all they have done over the last 16 months which have involved tragic loss and severe adversity for so many people.  

“There can be hardly anyone who hasn’t felt the impact of lockdowns, tiers and restrictions. We have experienced curbs on our freedom that we have never had to consider before, and I am proud that people across Nottinghamshire have repeatedly risen to the challenge of slowing the spread in their communities.

“Thank you Nottinghamshire for doing your bit.”

Lucy Hubber, Director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council, added: “We have all lived with restrictions for the last 16 months and it is natural that people are keen to get back to normal.

“However, when we look at the number of cases of Covid-19 in our city, it is clear that we must continue to take steps to protect each other from the virus. Let’s not undo all of the good work we have done together during the pandemic.

“We are asking people to continue to be careful in the choices they make; whether you decide to meet outdoors rather than indoors; whether you wear a mask on public transport or in an indoor shared space.

“This is not simply about our physical health but also about the mental wellbeing of many people who will feel incredibly anxious about returning to a life without any restrictions after abiding by the rules for so long – especially those who are clinically vulnerable and those who have been shielding.

“As well as ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ please also continue to take regular tests for Covid-19, even when you don’t have symptoms. Please also take steps to get both doses of the vaccine as soon as possible.”

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