A year of policing during Covid-19: Inspector Siobhan Gorman
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This week, some of our officers and staff have been sharing their stories of what the past 12 months has meant for them – both professionally and personally – as they have continued to work in their roles throughout a global pandemic.
Our final personal account comes from Inspector Siobhan Gorman, the Neighbourhood Policing Area Commander for Harborough and Wigston. Inspector Gorman talks about the challenges faced, the way the force adapted and the amazing support she saw both within her team and the local communities.
From December 2019, the new DI, DI Henry Henderson and I were preparing the larger ‘Eastern Counties’ Neighbourhood Area to split into two smaller neighbourhood areas; Melton and Rutland Neighbourhood Police Area (NPA) and Harborough and Wigston NPA as part of the wider Leicestershire Police reorganisation. This was incredibly time consuming and preparation ranged from partnership handovers to station moves, IT upgrades and new teams - so there was a lot of extra work on top of ‘daily business’.
Wednesday 11 March was the implementation of this new policing model. We were ready and all was going very well. I was really pleased. Then the first speech from Boris Johnson announced we would be going into lockdown. It was a huge shock to the nation. I was unsure how this would affect policing and family life. The months following were hugely challenging. Villages and towns were ghostly, legislation and guidance was coming out at speed, confusion was setting in for all.
Safety of my team was paramount. I was out shopping for soap and disinfectant as stocks were running low in the shops. Making sure the teams had PPE, that they were washing hands, they were aware of symptoms, that we were supporting those that may be vulnerable and changing the layout of the stations. We did a lot of ‘changing rooms’ and cleaning!
After two weeks of a lull in crime due to full lockdown and utter bewilderment; crime started to rise again. Then, I was hit by a crime pattern - car key burglaries. With an already stretched team, we put together a very successful operation – Op Gremlin. Five people were arrested and charged. And the car key burglaries stopped. This operation was a testament to the hard work of the team, they were new (due to the new model), Covid had just hit us and this was our first team operation. I knew now what my team was capable of under pressure. I was extremely proud and this set the tone for the Harborough and Wigston NPA.
The community were also incredible. The support was absolutely overwhelming. We were flooded with supplies of hot food, treats and well wishes. The team and I were completing gobsmacked. The kindness shown by the community will never be forgotten, and for years to come I will remember this unbelievable time with fond memories. Thank you.
The year continued - 4 July saw the night time economy open up - not every neighbourhood area but definitely in Harborough which hit the national papers! The area was in the spotlight for the incidents that occurred during the opening up of the pubs but we had planned well and further planning and late nights operations followed.
"Thank you for all the support that our communities and partners have shown. Thank you to all the officers, my immediate team and the police family for your hard work and commitment and strength"
Further lockdowns then followed. Crime continued to occur. This was beginning to be ‘normal life’. Christmas came and went. New Year came and went. We are still in lockdown. Vaccines are now being administered. Seeing police officers, strangers and loved ones in masks is ‘normal’.
I can only say that I have been supported by an incredible team all coming to work through the pandemic, snow and tiredness! I myself continued to work throughout the pandemic, supporting the teams, being visible with the team. I am grateful for the support from the schools who were able to have the kids throughout. I needed to be at work, they needed to be with their friends and have some normality. I was working long hours, under pressure and they were seeing this.
Wellbeing has always been at the top of my priorities for my team. making sure I bought in treats, gave time off, made their work place safe and a better space to work in, provided them with a ‘healthy eating’ tuck shop and a wellbeing room.
I must admit, I have been tested as a neighbourhood commander, leader, work colleague, friend, wife and mother. I have felt extreme pressure at times. Not being in the best of moods, cranky and feeling the effects of lockdown like everyone else. I am lucky, that I can go to work and understand there are others who are in a far worse situation than I am. The effect of the pandemic has affected us all in so many ways, really making us see life in a new way and with extra appreciation. The smallest gestures of kindness seem bigger than ever.
Thank you for all the support that our communities and partners have shown. Thank you to all the officers, my immediate team and the police family for your hard work and commitment and strength. Thank you to all those who have been there for me. I will never forget the jokes, the tears, the laughter and tough times we have had. The word ‘team’ has never meant so much.