The announcement by the Prime Minister of national lockdown measures will have implications for how Police Chaplaincy is delivered in forces and we have had some requests for advice and guidance to assist in making decisions.
Each individual force will have policies and procedures regarding COVID, both to deal with Operational response and also its own internal resilience and support. Chaplains should be aware of these. This advice, guidance and suggestions must be interpreted in the light of your own Force policy.
Officers and staff are under considerable pressure during these times and as Chaplains we are committed to offering whatever support we can to both individuals and the organisation. Guidance from Operation Talla just prior to Christmas recognised that chaplaincy is an important source of support.
Policing is clearly a vital service and even more so with the increased and complex demands of the current pandemic. Police Chaplaincy has an important role to play as part of the support structure that enables the force and individuals function and, if not already done so, it is vital for Lead Chaplains to have a conversation with your Senior Management Team as to how this can best be provided and enabled. Most forces are encouraging people to work from home where this is at all possible and there will be differences across forces as to whether the role of the Chaplain can be fulfilled away from the workplace. This may differ for the Lead Chaplain and the other members of a chaplaincy team.
Covid regulations allow volunteering and charitable work to continue. The Operation Talla guidance was to clarify that whilst some forces have, understandably, temporarily withdrawn volunteers, the role of the chaplaincy volunteers should be seen in the wider perspective of staff well being and where possible allow access to the workplace. However, just because you can does not mean you should. You must follow the guidance given by your Lead Chaplain or Chaplaincy Coordinator and keep them informed if you are requested visit stations or individuals.
Visibility - It is important that Police Chaplaincy remains visible.
This may be done by visits, but other ways should be considered.
Accessibility – how can people make contact?
Ensure that contact information for the Chaplaincy and your own details are up to date and accurate. Ask how this can be highlighted force wide and more locally [eg email; at briefings; via the force intranet]
Responsibility – ‘every contact leaves a trace’
Some Chaplains will need to self isolate because of their own vulnerability or that of relatives and not, at the current time, be able to offer their service. This is fine.
We should also be mindful of our personal responsibility to maintain operational resilience e.g. many forces are operating in ‘bubbles’ or separate teams. Visiting may well compromise that and contaminate – remember the forensic adage, ‘every contact leaves a trace’.
If you are physically present, either routinely or by specific request, strictly adhere to all guidance regarding PPE, hand-washing etc to maintain a COVID secure environment.
We hope this guidance is useful, thank you for all you do.
Charles Nevin - Chair, Police Chaplaincy UK
& PCUK Trustees