Suffolk police will still wear face masks after 'freedom day'
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Police in Suffolk will continue to wear face masks after Monday following guidance from the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).
From tomorrow, the rules making face masks mandatory for most people in places such as shops and on public transport will be lifted, with people instead urged to “exercise their personal responsibility”.
But the NPCC has written to all forces advising that existing infection control measures should continue, issuing guidance to officers and staff to still use personal protective equipment (PPE).
The guidance, which will be "reviewed on an ongoing basis", advises that face coverings should be worn in communal spaces, public buildings and public transport, when not able to socially distance from members of the public and when double crewed in vehicles.
Staff will also continue to work from home when possible.
Ben Hudson, secretary of Suffolk Police Federation said the association, which represents rank and file officers at Suffolk Constabulary, is "fully supportive" of the NPCC's stance on the issue.
“By the very nature of policing, our members have to get close to members of the public and this is often in confined, indoor areas," he said.
"As such, for the health, safety and wellbeing of all parties, we feel it is appropriate for officers to continue to wear face masks and use other personal protective equipment (PPE) despite the changes to government guidelines that come into effect on Monday.
“The police service exists to serve and protect the public and this is just another example of that.
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"Covid-19 has not gone away and I think it is critical at this stage for everyone to do all they can to prevent the risk of spreading the virus.
“The federation will, like everyone else at this point in the pandemic, continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly."
Martin Hewitt, NPCC chairman, said the organisation wants to ensure officers are protected as much as possible as well as aiming to limit the number of staff off sick.
"As employers, chief constables have a responsibility to do everything they can to keep their staff and officers safe," he said.
"The nature of policing means officers are often in close contact with members of the public, are dealing with vulnerable people and going into different homes.
"That's why we will continue for now with our current infection control measures, like the use of face masks.
"We also want to ensure our officers and staff are as protected as possible so they can be there for the public and we minimise the risk of large numbers either being off sick or self-isolating."