Coping with COVID and Policing Through the Crisis

Corona virus is bad news.

It has proved fatal for some and left others with an illness of varying severity.

It has put huge strain on the NHS and required some in both hospitals and care homes to work long hours in difficult circumstances.

It has left some in our communities grieving for relatives and friends and, in some cases, made it impossible for us to attend the funerals of people we have known for much of our lives.

(I recently lost my agent for two Police and Crime Commissioner elections, but was not able to attend his funeral because of the restrictions.)

And it has introduced a measure of fear and anxiety into our lives, not least the lives of our very young and our frail elderly.

COVID-19 has required all of us to change our way of life, in some cases quite dramatically.

I currently work from home along with all my staff.

But I have discovered that I can do quite a lot of work that way, using telephone conference calls.

As far as policing across South Yorkshire goes, this continues and there have been some mixed effects.

In the first place there has been an impact on crime and disorder.

Because there is now no night-time economy and no football, calls on the police at weekends have been drastically reduced.

There has been a fall in house burglaries. People who are up to no good are much more easily noticed when the streets are so empty.

But some of this criminal activity has been displaced to commercial premises. Shop owners and those with business premises need to think carefully about how they might improve their security at this time.

There is also a worry that those who are suffering abuse in the home might find it difficult to communicate their concerns if they are locked down – though helplines remain open and the police have been asked to keep their eyes and ears open as they patrol.

But policing carries on.

Investigations continue, people are called on and some are arrested and taken to custody suites.

As Police and Crime Commissioner I am acutely aware that for many officers and staff this brings an element of risk.

I must do what I can to ensure that police officers and staff receive the protective equipment they need.

This is something I can do remotely. In a weekly dial-in I have with the policing minister I can raise the issues directly with him – and I do.


Dr Alan Billings

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire