'It has been hard - but the community has been incredible' - Harborough’s police chief reflects on the 'extreme pressures' of the last 12 months
Insp Siobhan Gorman admits she has felt under “extreme pressure” as she led local officers through the Covid pandemic
Harborough’s police chief has admitted she’s felt under “extreme pressure” as she’s led local officers through the 12-month Covid pandemic.
Insp Siobhan Gorman, 43, the Neighbourhood Policing Area Commander (NPA) for Harborough and Wigston, made the honest admission as she said her and her “incredible” team have been stretched to the limit by the year-long coronavirus crisis.
The senior officer also saluted the “incredible” Harborough community – declaring their support to be “absolutely overwhelming”.
“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,” said Insp Gorman.
“Not being in the best of moods, cranky and feeling the effects of lockdown like everyone else.”
She said they launched the new Harborough and Wigston NPA policing model on Wednesday March 11 last year.
“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,” said Insp Gorman.
“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.
“The 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 (personal protective equipment), 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!”
She said there was an initial “lull in crime” before they were hit by a mini-spree of offences - 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,” revealed Insp Gorman.
“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.”
Praising local people, she said: “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.
Late-night trouble flared in Market Harborough town centre as pubs reopened on Saturday July 4 last year after being shut almost four months.
“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-night operations followed,” said Insp Gorman.
“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,” said Insp Gorman.
“Wellbeing has always been at the top of my priorities for my team.
“Making sure I bought in treats, gave time off, made their workplace safe and a better space to work in, provided them with a ‘healthy eating’ tuck shop and a wellbeing room.
“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.
“I will never forget the jokes, the tears, the laughter and tough times we have had.
“The word ‘team’ has never meant so much,” said Insp Gorman.