Published: 16:45, 14 January 2021
| Updated: 14:24, 15 January 2021
A senior police commander has reassured the county there is enough manpower to cope despite a spike in the number of staff and frontline officers testing positive for Covid-19.
Statistics released by Kent Police reveal that in November - the latest month for which data is available - there were 73 positive tests for the coronavirus among officers of all ranks.
With a total of around 3,800 serving officers, this meant approximately 2% of the force was found to have contracted the virus. Among police staff, including PCSOs, there were 39 cases, while there three positive tests among special constables.
At the end of November the case rate in the population of Kent as a whole stood at 298 per 100,000 - or just 0.3%. The latest figure is 695.6 per 100,000.
The higher prevalence of cases among Kent Police officers and staff reflects the nature of their work within our communities amid the ongoing pandemic.
Current government guidelines state anyone testing positive must self-isolate for 10 full days from the day their symptoms started.
Asst Ch Con Claire Nix said: "Police officers on the front line are putting themselves at risk every day to ensure public safety and that the latest Government restrictions are adhered to.
"Since October we have seen an increase in the number of officers who have tested positive with Covid-19, which is in line with national and countywide infections rates also going up.
"Swift intervention and support in the workplace have meant that we've been able to isolate positive cases quickly and keep offices and stations safe, whilst still seeing one of the lowest absence rates in the country and the public should be assured that we have enough officers in place to continue to offer a first-class service to the communities we serve."
The total of 115 positive tests among all Kent Police employees in November represented a steep increase on the previous months.
In September there were just two instances recorded, climbing to 45 in October.
The figures relate to all individuals who were tested while employed by the force. If an employee had more than one test with a positive result, each test is counted towards the total.
Kent Police says measures have been put in place to minimise the risk of infection where possible - with some employees being able to work from home and frontline officers being provided with the appropriate protective equipment.
Asst Ch Con Nix said: "Whilst precautions are in place, there will always be a risk to police officers and staff due to the nature of policing and the need to ensure those who don’t adhere to the rules are engaged with and where necessary, fined."
Kent Police issued 30 fines for breaches of restrictions during the first weekend of the latest lockdown, which included people hugging and kissing each other after a house party had been broken up by officers.