‘Do As You Are Told’ | Anonymous Police Staff

As I sit and start writing this, it is 03:21hrs on Wednesday 25th March 2020. 

I have just got home from a 12-hour late shift in the control room of a UK police service. I’m not sure what I’m hoping to achieve with this, maybe it will be cathartic to write it down. Maybe it might just illustrate exactly how things are at the moment. Certainly, it is what I see.

Anyway, it is the 4th duty of a six-day “set”, it’s the second of 2 late duties both of which I have extended by two hours (to the maximum of 12hrs). 

At the time of writing, we are heading into the third day since the schools closed (excluding the weekend) and 24hrs since Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the unprecedented step of stopping people leaving their homes in an attempt to stop the spread of Coronavirus/Covid-19.

Then there is my partner. 

A newly qualified nurse with our fantastic NHS. She qualified at the beginning of the year; she has been in the job for a minute, relatively speaking, and has suddenly found herself on the frontline in the midst of a global pandemic. At the moment, however, she is upstairs, probably asleep (though it won’t be restful) having recently finished two back to back, 12-hour nightshifts, a long day (8 am – 8 pm) with a day off in between.

I’ve seen her for about two hours since 19th March. I won’t see her much more than that by the time my rest days come round, and on my first rest day, she will be back in for another long day. And the cycle starts again. And we’re only partway into the first week of sanctions. Don’t get me wrong, we both love our jobs, but at the moment they are hard.

You see, we are considered key workers (my partner more than me in my opinion) so as long as we are healthy, we have to go to work. So we don’t place an unnecessary burden on the schools, we have arranged our shifts so that one of us is always home with the children. By the time the end of what would have been the Easter Holidays comes around, we would have used the schools only twice.

Our jobs are harder than they should be because of staff numbers. I’m not going to get all political, but it is well documented that the police and the NHS are under-resourced and creaking under the strain placed upon them.

Welcome, stage right, Covid-19….

Like many employers, businesses and organisations, it has decimated our workforces through sickness, shielding and self-isolation. 

I don’t know about the NHS, but I do know how many are off sick from my department, purely down to Covid-19. I’m not going to put a number on it (classed as “Official/Sensitive”), otherwise utter buffoons will start panic buying bog-roll again which, thanks to those idiots, shops have stopped 24hr trading meaning it’s now even harder to shop, juggle home life, kids and work.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of reducing the number of people potentially infected?

My partner and I don’t get to stop. We can’t just say “can you all just behave for a bit and not get ill”, then close the police and the hospitals while this bug passes through.

Today (24th March), I drove to work rather than cycle, with my pass round my neck to avoid confrontation about why I was out. I didn’t take any lunch either. Not because we are particularly low but to make doubly sure that those left at home would have enough, eliminating the need to go out and try to squeeze in a shop in and avoid another stress.

Every shift I can I increase to the maximum twelve hours to plug the holes caused by sickness and I go in knowing that I will almost certainly have to send a police officer to stand within touching distance of someone infected with the Coronavirus. Some of those “customers” might even think to weaponise it (I wish I was making that up). They go willingly because they want to help. I’m so lucky it’s not me, but it is a heavy burden to carry.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of reducing the number of people potentially infected?

Then there’s my superhero partner (she should literally wear a cape, a mask and fly). She goes to work knowing full well that she will be treating someone with Coronavirus. 

There is no if, but or maybe, she will be exposed to it. It’s a case of when we get it. If she had bo**ocks, she wouldn’t be able to sit down due to their size. 

We talk by text a lot as that is all we have sometimes, and she is filled with guilt that she will bring this bell-hat infection home to our children. 

It weighs heavy on her, I can see it in the WhatsApp pictures she sends me (again, all we have sometimes) along with her red raw hands, but she still goes in and cares for these people like they are her own family.

Do you want an example of how much this affects people? She was asleep on the sofa around midday on the 24th. She was sleeping soundly (I won’t say she was snoring) and I’d not long woken up having finished at 3 am that morning. All of a sudden, she jolted awake with a start, panicking she had fallen asleep during her little break at work, so exhausted that she couldn’t remember coming home!

Why? Because the cases keep coming in, and the numbers are increasing.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of reducing the number of people potentially infected?

I should point out it was also day two of homeschooling which had already gone out the window for the day as we both tried to keep a lid on our lack of patience caused by crippling tiredness and the utter despair as we see the images of people treating this like a public holiday and wonder why we adhere to rules and try so hard when everyone else clearly doesn’t care. 

And we carry that burden also, that the roles we’ve taken on put us in that position. That by occupying roles that help so many but keep us from helping our own as much as we feel we should. Only the support of our family helps us rationalise it and picking each other up when the load gets too heavy.

I don’t know the official numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, and even if I did and wrote them down they would be different by tomorrow, and if I’m honest, I don’t really care. 

All I do know is this is going to get a lot worse. 

We are nowhere near the apex of cases, already the emergency services and NHS are at breaking point (you really don’t want to know exactly how close), and we are only into day three of the most serious restrictions on our movements.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of reducing the number of people potentially infected?

But there is. And it’s so simple it hurts.  

  • Stay at least 2 meters away from other people if you have no choice but to go out.  
  • If you don’t need to go out, don’t stay in! 

It really is that simple…..oh and sing happy birthday twice while washing your hands—still bloody simple.

And despite all the doomsday garble above we don’t want any extra thanks but appreciate what we are given, we don’t need any sympathy either, though knowing others care really helps, because we took these jobs knowing what we were getting into. We love our jobs, and we love helping people. All we want is this:

Do. As. You. Are. F**KING. Told.

Do that, and you could genuinely say that you probably saved a life. I know I have in the past. It feels pretty good. I’d wager a fair amount of the £3.50 I earn that more than once a week you would all rather be at home. 

Well, now you are being offered it on a plate! 

Take it, stay in, chill out and help little Billy learn a little bit more than he shouldn’t hit his sister. We wish we could. We wish more than anything to hole ourselves up at home, lock out the world and hibernate with our family until this all blows through. We can’t because our community needs us and it needs us healthy.

Stay. At. Home.

This is a watershed moment in global history, and it is fundamentally changing the way the emergency services and the NHS work. This will be studied for a long, long time by governments, health organisations and by academics. If you don’t have kids now, by the time you do and they are in school, this could form part of their GSCEs, A Level or Degree. It’s that big. 

However, blotting this chapter in history will be a paragraph explaining that society nearly broke down, that we fought over toilet roll and we couldn’t follow simple rules designed to ensure the survival of our way of life, if not our existence (love a bit of drama).

I hope we learn.

I do get it, we’ve had rubbish weather all year, and the moment it’s nice we’re told not to go out. It’s frustrating, we understand. And there is no escaping the fact that these are the most draconian measures imposed on a peacetime society in history, they weren’t even that strict during World War 2. 

Some perspective though. 

They won’t last years; you are not being asked to bear arms, you are not being asked to face a bullet or be sent into a situation where death is odds on the most likely outcome. 

You are being asked to stay at home, with your families, where you can still communicate with your extended family, where all your comforts will still exist and where you are safe. Just do it.

If you cannot get behind your emergency services and the NHS, feel free to stand in the front of them.

Because that is what we are doing for you!

#stayathome #flattenthecurve

….ahhhhh, that feels better.

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3 comments

  • A bloody good read and wholeheartedly agree with everything said, I’m a 69 year old ( well on 29 th) in an empty house as my 66 year old wife is looking after her dad who is bed bound with no help we see each other for about 1 hour a day to do some exercise and walk our two very active GSD we are staying at home, my motorbike is sat unused the caravan is still in storage we are staying in, the grandkids live four doors away I’ve not seen them in a week

    EVERY ONE JUST STAY AT HOME

    THE NHS ARE ALL HEROES AS WE AS THE POLICE AND NOW THE ARMY IS COMING IN AS WELL

  • Graham Bloodworth

    We police by concent, that is democracy. Supposedly civilised, yet part of me would be glad to see feral yoofs in the stocks, or tar and feathers for attacking emergency service personnel, we cannot deport them, Australia say they have enough convicts in their family tree🤣 Stay safe, take care. Some of us understand, those that are selfish or stupid well there is alway Covid 20 designed to cull the idiots.

  • Bill Starkey

    Really well said. Kudos to you. Stay safe all of you!

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