A year of policing during Covid-19: Police Constable Hetal Tharanee
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This week, some of our officers and staff are 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.
Today, Police Constable Hetal Tharanee, an officer in Charnwood, shares her story of the past year.
At first it didn’t really sink in regarding the lockdown and to be honest I didn’t think it was such a massive change. However that soon altered.
Professionally it was business as usual. The beat I work on is made up of shops, pubs, restaurants and clubs. We continued policing, we continued going in to work and we continued serving the community. As lockdown then continued, more and more guidelines came into place. It was confusing for everyone, especially with the mixed messages across social media.
The support from our supervisors was great. Working on one of the busiest beats in Charnwood, we had to get used to lots of Teams meetings and Skype calls instead of face to face. Our work checking in on vulnerable people in the area increased as we worked to make sure they had access to the basics, knew about food parcels and knew where they could get extra help from. Among all of this, we were also dealing with breaches of the Covid regulations. We found some people would just disregard the rules and therefore policing the pandemic for us did become more and more stressful.
But with the changes, much of our work continued as normal too. We have continued to deal with those who cause harm in society, have continued to disrupt those who commit drug offences, continued to execute warrants, carry out stop checks and gather intelligence. We have also continued to keep in touch with key partners throughout our work. During lockdown I also became the beat officer for Loughborough University which was a brilliant opportunity for myself too.
Personally, the start of lockdown meant my two children were all of a sudden at home. We were having to queue up to enter the supermarkets, sometimes for 25 minutes at a time, to then realise some of the basics were unavailable, I was having to shop for family who were shielding. Not being able to get things for them was sad.
Luckily the weather was good at the start and I recall it being a bit of a ‘holiday period’ then. A week prior to the national lockdown in March 2020 I went to the shops and stocked up on activities and crafts for the children and remember making bags up for other mums at the school as they had not been able to get to the shops. I didn’t realise at the time how much I would have relied on this.
Home schooling was a novelty to begin with. Expectations were not huge, as I love being creative and being outdoors so we made the most of this opportunity.
But as the lockdown went on, for me personally it meant not seeing my family for even longer. This includes my parents who are both over 70. I became not only a working mum in lockdown, but the one that did the food shop and who shopped for the family. Looking after them around my own family and home schooling – let’s just say it took its toll.
Having a young family and explaining to them what was happening and explaining why we could not see family and friends was also hard. Luckily with the magic of video calls, that did make things better.
I have always enjoyed coming into work and being able to come in and see colleagues was the only bit of normality for me during lockdown. At work, we kept in touch with the community through email, Neighbourhood Link and social media. Some of us also came together and built up a virtual running club which is still going strong. We completed the ‘Couch to 5k’ challenge and kept each other going during this difficult time.
Work did make a huge difference to me and my home life. It meant I got a break from home and managed to keep a focus on things. I am not going to lie some days were tough, but speaking to colleagues did make the world of difference for me.