DEALING with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic remains a huge focus for Essex Police Officers and the Federation, according to its new Interim Chair.
Laura Heggie – who took over the role this week – said despite being three months into lockdown, it is still tough for officers in terms of balancing their own safety on the job and juggling their work and home lives.
Laura said: “The over-riding issue at the moment is Op Talla, which is the Covid pandemic. There are so many aspects that have fallen out of that which have had knock-on effects to the members.
“With one of the main concerns being around officers own safety and that of their loved ones by just coming to work each day and how that’s had to be maintained throughout. That was never lost on us and the members have adapted to these unprecedented times with great flexibility and selflessness.
“There have been challenges for members working from home who aren’t coming into the workplace, childcare with the schools closing down and grandparents being out of action, also people who are shielding.
“That has caused a lot more concerns and anxiety for people on how they’re actually going to manage working from home and the childcare at the same time.
“And it’s been trying to ensure there’s that flexibility and balance which enables the organisation to achieve what they need and continue to function whilst, and where possible, getting the needs of the members met and that can be tricky.
“We are there to help them come to some form of compromise that suits all.
“Likewise we are there to pass on information. We attend the meetings; every day we’re raising concerns and issues with chief officers, we have a fantastic relationship with the Op Talla command which has resulted in a healthy consultation process. We don’t always get what we ask for but that’s what compromise is about, at least in Essex we have that voice.
“So the really important part of that is the communication and trying to make sure that that information was getting back out to the members. Especially with people working from home, people have felt very much in the dark and they need that information so that they can start to try and plan the way forward.”
Laura – a Sergeant – has taken on the role of Interim Chair after Steve Taylor took a role on the National Board for the Police Federation of England and Wales.
Laura has been a police officer for 28 years and has been Essex Police Federation’s Vice-Chair for four years, and a full time Fed rep for 18 months leading on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
She added: “The Police Federation is the main voice that represents all our rank-and-file members. It is that connection between the officers and their terms and conditions and things that are implemented at senior level. So it’s really important.
“Police Regulations effect their wellbeing, their finances, their home life. It touches on everything, it’s not just work related.
“I have a lot of respect for Steve and what he’s achieved. The Federation is unrecognisable for Essex in the time that he’s been Chair and I don’t think anyone would dispute that.
“By virtue of my role as Vice-Chair, I’ve taken over as interim Chair with the intention to stay in that role if allowed. If anyone else wants to stand against me for Chair there would be an election, but in the meantime I will continue.
“Certainly in the next couple of weeks until I know what’s happening, I will still be making decisions about things and policies that need to be made and I’m going to continue the good work that Steve has done. In particular I’m going to continue to represent the members and make sure we are heard.”