Almost 10% of NI police officers unavailable for work due to Covid-19

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Police patrol Belfast city centre (Peter Morrison/PA) (PA Archive)
Police patrol Belfast city centre (Peter Morrison/PA) (PA Archive)

Almost 10% of police officers in Northern Ireland are unavailable for work due to Covid-19.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesperson said the service moved to emergency shift arrangements in late December to ensure sufficient capacity and capability to maintain core service levels.

Figures provided to the PA news agency revealed that on Wednesday January 5, there were 701 police officers (9.93%) and 156 police staff (6%) unavailable for work for reasons related to Covid-19.

Earlier this week it emerged that a quarter of Northern Ireland Ambulance Service staff were unavailable for work due to Covid-19 and other reasons.

NIAS chief executive Michael Bloomfield said while the sickest patients are prioritised, as waiting times get longer, there have been instances where they have had to advise callers to, where possible, make their own way to hospital.

We have planned and prepared for this to ensure our workforce can continue to do their job as safely as possible, protecting themselves and the people they need to help

PSNI spokesperson

Staffing at the health trusts has also been badly affected, with thousands of staff unavailable to work due to coronavirus.

While Covid-19 case numbers have already hit record highs in Northern Ireland, the peak of the Omicron wave is expected to be reached in the next 10 days.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “The high transmission rate of the Covid-19 Omicron variant and significant community infection rates across Northern Ireland has affected the Police Service of Northern Ireland in common with all public services.

“We have planned and prepared for this to ensure our workforce can continue to do their job as safely as possible, protecting themselves and the people they need to help.

“The service moved to emergency shift arrangements in late December to ensure sufficient capacity and capability to maintain all our core service levels and keep communities safe across Northern Ireland.

“We all have a part to play in keeping safe; keeping one another safe; and, ultimately, helping to take the pressures off our Health Service during this challenging time and, it is more important now than ever, that everyone follows the public health advice.”

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