The officer in charge of two police forces’ responses to the pandemic has issued a stern warning about the “invisible enemy” as he recovers from the virus himself.
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Miller tested positive for coronavirus six weeks ago and still suffers from coughing fits and fatigue.
On Wednesday he made an emotional plea for the public to abide by lockdown restrictions in the face of the highest excess death rate since the Second World War.
ACC Miller, who has led the Sussex Police and Surrey Police Covid-19 response since February 2020, has still not been able to return to work full-time.
He said: “Thinking back to this time last year, I remember using the word ‘coronavirus’ as something quite removed from my daily life.
“A talking point. A virus, rapidly spreading in the Far East, though not yet impacting us here in the UK.”
Nonetheless he and colleagues planned for the virus’s probable arrival and developed a strategy around a “possible worst case scenario” as they would for any major incident.
“We could never have imagined what we are faced by now – our country, gripped by a disease which is not only controlling lives, it’s taking them too.
“All of us have been seriously affected by Covid – whether that’s contracting the disease, lockdown, being furloughed, or losing someone.”
Six weeks ago ACC Miller tested positive for coronavirus, along with his immediate family.
He said: “Today, I still suffer from this invisible enemy – the coughing fits and fatigue for example.
“I have a brother who is working exhaustingly to keep a care team running in Brighton; watching him struggle as they attempt to provide 24/7 care to people who desperately need it.”
Despite being able to return to work part-time, the senior police officer said he worries about the long-term impact of the virus on himself and his family.
“Like many of us, I have friends in the NHS and hear how very difficult it has been and continues to be for them, their patients and families.
“None of us are immune. None of us. And (it) seems to be a complete lottery as to how we’ll be affected.
“We can all contract it and pass it on, some of us without even knowing we are doing it.”
ACC Miller expressed his thanks to the “vast majority” of the public who are obeying the law.
But he added: “It is not ok to be reckless or irresponsible because we are tired, frustrated, bored.
“I know it’s difficult, but it’s just not acceptable to bend the rules, even slightly.
“I say that as a neighbour, member of the public, father, friend and also as a senior police leader.”
He said that those who blatantly disregard the rules will be dealt with when “justified, necessary and proportionate” because they are putting others at risk.
He also called on the public to respect police officers and staff who are putting themselves and their families at risk.