The Chief Constable of South Wales Police says there are plans in place for policing during the Coronavirus outbreak but is appealing for the public’s patience.
In an exclusive interview with CJS News, Matt Jukes said “we’ve got plans in place now specifically for the Coronavirus as we’ve been working with partners locally on that.”
“It’s very much a question about the overall impact to see whether we will be able to, in due course, deal with all crimes, or whether we will simply have to ask for the public’s patience to allow us to prioritise the most serious offences.”
It follows the release of the UK government’s Coronavirus action plan which said that police may have to focus only on serious crime as up to one fifth of the workforce may be off sick during the peak of the coronavirus epidemic.
Matt Jukes says that South Wales Polices’ continuity plans have been developed with the health sector, the emergency services and local government over a period of months.
“The experience of dealing with extraordinary times of demand isn’t an entirely new one for us.”
“This kind of restriction on our resources will happen when we get outbreaks of winter flu, we’ve had that in the past which has pushed through maybe 10% of our resource not being available”.
When pushed on exactly what crimes may be sidelined in the event of a reduced workforce, he said:
“The thing that will always get protection is the protection of life. After that we’ll be looking to hopefully secure evidence of crimes if we can’t respond immediately so there are opportunities later.”
Matt Jukes said that despite this plan, it is hard to categorise types of crime.
“Often you might think about something like a fraud as something where a life is not immediately at risk, but you could have a very vulnerable older person fall victim to fraud, so I’d want us always to be able to prioritise according to vulnerability as well as categories of crime.”
Yesterday the UK saw its first death from coronavirus.