DUP South Antrim MLA and Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke has said the Covid-19 outbreak at Antrim PSNI station is a timely reminder of the risks faced by local police officers and staff in the course of carrying out their duties.
Mr Clarke has also written to the Chief Constable asking him to urgently clarify the contingency arrangements being put in place to ensure the continued delivery of service to the public in Antrim and Newtownabbey.
Commenting Mr Clarke said,
‘‘In these unprecedented times our sincere thanks go out to local police officers and police staff who have been on the frontline of efforts to keep our communities and citizens safe from harm. As a Party we send our best wishes to those officers from Antrim PSNI station diagnosed with Covid-19 in recent days, as well to the significant number of officers and staff presently self-isolating as a direct consequence of the outbreak.
These developments should serve as a timely reminder of personal sacrifice by many of our emergency service personnel working to provide vital and uninterrupted services to the public during this pandemic. It is imperative that measures aimed at protecting the health and wellbeing of our frontline staff continue to be reviewed closely and learning from this incident used to inform future policy.
I welcome the swift action taken in response to the outbreak to ensure deep cleaning at both Antrim and Newtownabbey stations in order to mitigate against further harm and risk of spread of the virus. It is important moving forward that appropriate steps are taken to regularly update the public on the status of this work, confirm the expected timeframe for reopening and ensure the security of resources and data held at each station.
In the interim it is critical for public confidence that the PSNI moves to clarify how the delivery of services will be maintained. ACC Todd has provided constructive public assurances that arrangements are in place but the communities affected understandably seek greater clarity on what this entails.
For these reasons I have written to the Chief Constable urging him to confirm the level of officers and staff currently available for duty in the impacted districts, detail any mitigations put in place, and provide an assessment of current incident response times in the local area.
Whilst the wellbeing and recovery of the affected officers must continue to be our foremost priority it is vital that the PSNI demonstrates the leadership needed to retain a well-resourced and visible policing service to the people of Antrim and Newtownabbey at this difficult time.’’