The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has led to many questions and concerns over the impact of the virus for you and your families and for the National Crime Agency as well as the wider Law Enforcement community. These concerns are entirely understandable, I can assure you that your NEC have been working hard with Senior Leaders to be able to respond to your concerns.
We are all aware that these are unprecedented times. As the agency have already advised, whilst they had some established plans for dealing with the developing COVID – 19 issues; they acknowledge that these plans are now being tested earlier than anticipated due to the speed with which this virus is spreading.
Hopefully you are all aware that on the 16th March 2020, HM Government issued updated advice for immediate application, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This advice is summarised as:
- Minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings.
- Avoid using public transport as much as possible, especially during rush hour periods.
- Work from home where possible.
- Those who cannot work from home should continue to go to work unless advised by their employer or if they display symptoms.
- Follow the latest health and travel advice and follow basic hygiene precautions such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing.
- People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.
- Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should stay at home for 14 days.
- At this time schools remain open, however this decision will be consistently monitored and reviewed depending on the spread of the infection.
The NEC consider the most recent communication from the agency as a calm and measured response that is in everyone’s best interests including those who the NCA protects in tackling Serious and Organised Crime.
Your NEC recognise that is critical that the NCA continues to function effectively and it is therefore important that NCA officers need to reduce their risk of getting the infection. In the coming days and weeks it is important that as NCA officers we look out for each other and the wider community. Do not try to be a hero and suppress any symptoms you may be experiencing. If you or anyone in your household shows COVID-19 symptoms however mild, you should self-isolate and follow the published advice.
In our engagement with the agency to date, they have made a commitment to us that the welfare of NCA officers is a priority. I have asked your local Workplace Reps to assist by engaging with local Management to ensure that the response across different commands in the same workplace is as far as possible consistent if appropriate. We recognise that is both impractical and logistically difficult for all officers to work from home. You will be aware that there is work currently being undertaken to assess how to deal with this challenge.
The agency is now seeking to identify those officers who are most vulnerable owing to an underlying health condition. I advise that NCOA members comply with this request, the agency have made a commitment to ensuring that all medical information is held securely. We are working with the agency to understand what this will mean in both the long and short term for these officers. I have also asked that keeping in touch with these officers is a priority, I would ask that we all play our part in this respect and we take time to phone colleagues who are having to self-isolate for a prolonged periods of time.
The agency is also seeking to identify those officers who have caring responsibilities, including those who have young children. In the coming days, we will be working with the agency in updating the operating procedures for dependants leave in line with the developing situation.
In addition to the commitment made by the agency to keep officers updated. Besides your workplace Reps engaging with local management, the NEC will continue to represent NCOA members concerns on the agency COVID-19 Gold Group both supporting and challenging the agency to act in the best interests of NCOA members. Your NEC will also endeavour to keep you apprised of developments. Hopefully you will be aware that we recently published information for IBT members on their holiday insurance at www.ncoa.org.uk/news.
We will update our website regularly and keep you informed on any developing issues related to COVID-19 and other engagement, if needed please update your contact details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At these very challenging times, I confirm the commitment of the NCOA that ‘we are here to protect you’.