Support for Serco Health staff during COVID-19

Thank you for your hard work to keep our hospitals running safely during this time. 

This webpage has been created to help YOU with any urgent questions or issues which come up during this unprecedented period of time:

  • How to Listen and Empathise so as to reduce tension
  • Dealing with people in Distress or Crisis
  • Legal powers of Restriction
  • Tactics for special circumstances

There is an area below for you to submit your question or issue – my team and I will get you an answer or guidance within 24 hours.

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Answers to your questions:

Dynamis opinion on PPE - April 17 2020

The best-available guidance at the moment suggests that Security Officers who are to be specifically tasked with carrying out physical interventions on violent or disturbed persons at the hospital should have the following Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in order to comply with guidance:

  • Goggle-type eye protection with adjustable strap and face sealing capacity
  • Highest-Spec available face mask with around the head straps.
  • Highest-Spec available Disposable overalls.
  • Highest-Spec available Disposable protective gloves.

Where such PPE is not available, then Security Officers should not be tasked with carrying out physical interventions and should instead revert to other options.

Other options to deal with physical violence may include:

  • Containment of a violent or disturbed person in an area by themselves, where possible.
  • Disengage and revert to police contact, call 999

Where containment or disengagement are not options, such as in the case of spontaneous violence which was not forseeable, then it seems prudent at this time to advise security officers that the use of methods of intervention which are “more restrictive” or “more intrusive” could be appropriate in some circumstances.

Exposure to ‘close contact’ as defined above (within 2 meters or 6 feet) of a COVID-19 positive person (or suspected COVID-19 person) should be limited to the shortest possible amount of time necessary.

Generally, when officers attempt to shorten the time-period of physical interventions, they will use more force, more intrusively in order for their actions to be as effective in the circumstances to gain rapid control of the subject.

It is not inconceivable then to predict that officers may need to use tactics which are effective in short time-periods, which in other times would not be immediately necessary:

  • the use of mechanical restraint (ties, handcuffs, soft-cuffs)
  • projection (forceful pushing)
  • impact
  • takedowns
  • pain-inducing holds

Officers should have a very clear understanding of the legal rules regarding Reasonable Force, Necessity and Proportionality when intervening in such situations, so they can justify their actions post-incident.

Proportionate use of force gives regard to the harm that might occur should the degree of force used not stop the harm which is threatened.   

As shown above, Physical Intervention with a person infected with COVID-19 presents the highest degree of risk possible (i.e. the danger of contracting the disease and dying from it), which should be borne in mind in any investigation of use-of-force during these times, with an eye to the legal principle of “honest belief”

Considerable planning for the procurement, storage, preparation, donning (putting on), usage and doffing (taking off), safe disposal and after-care of both equipment and staff should be undertaken with immediate and urgent effect.

NAPICU PPE Guidance 17 April 2020

NAPICU Recommended physical intervention PPE set

“The following are recommended:

          • Goggle-type eye protection with adjustable strap and face sealing capacity. There are googles available with a nylon elasticated strap which has shown to be effective in keeping the protection in place. This may provide less than optimal infection control properties and will therefore require specific procedures for cleaning.
          • Face mask with around the head straps. The highest specification for liquid resistance and filtration available to the unit is recommended.
          • Disposable overalls. The highest specification overalls available to the unit are recommended.
          • Protective gloves. The highest specification protective gloves available to the unit are recommended.

All items should be subject to further infection control guidance for the donning and doffing, disposal and where appropriate the cleaning and storage of reusable equipment. 5.71.

Wherever possible, reusable PPE should be allocated for use by a named member staff to reduce the potential for infection from equipment used by more than one staff member.”

Government PPE Guidance from National Health England:


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