Planning During the Pandemic

The job of the Police and Crime Commissioner is not to run the police force. The Chief Constable does that.

My job, on your behalf, is to give them the means to do what we need them to do and to ensure they do it.

How are they faring in the present situation with corona virus? Fortunately, the police are used to dealing with crises.

Senior officers, as part of their continuous training, have spent time ‘scenario planning’. This is a table-top exercise where they are given an imagined situation – a building has collapsed in the city centre, say – and have to work through what to do, and who to work with, to manage the situation.

But as the exercise goes on they are given new information that make the scenario more complex – the collapse followed an explosion, but was it a bomb or a gas main, and what difference would that make?

In other words, long before crises happen, the police have worked through how to respond.

We saw an example of that at the end of last year when South Yorkshire Police had to work with partners to ensure safety and security during the floods – which, like the scenario planning, was changing all the time.

What I see now is this in operation.

A Gold Group has been formed to bring together the information needed to understand what is happening and to give strategic lead.

This uses all the skills developed in that scenario planning.

The Gold Group must not only think about what is happening now, but also what might happen as time goes by if this disease progresses as it has elsewhere and people behave as elsewhere.

Who becomes vulnerable? What happens to crime? How will the public react if emergency measures come in?

Officers also have to think about their own organisation – in two ways.

First, the virus will affect police officers and staff like anyone else.

So they must plan for reduced numbers.

But second, this also impacts on everyone’s well-being, including those staff who will be working from home.

I have told the Chief Constable that whatever resources the police need they must have, and we will use our reserves to fund them.

The scenario we are faced with requires something from all of us.

I have no doubt that our police have the skills to play their part.


Dr Alan Billings

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire