Leicestershire Police is being praised by a Government watchdog for the way it performed during the Covid pandemic.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) “highlights Leicestershire Police several times for leading the way during lockdown”.
The pat on the back comes after the force was subjected to the first and then the longest local lockdown in the UK so had some of the greatest challenges.
“The report also highlighted that Leicestershire Police adapted online technology in order to update communities.
“Using Neighbourhood Link, an online system allows the public to gets updates about police activity in their area,” said Leicestershire Police.
“Police increased the amount of followers by 24,616 during this period and it continues to grow.
“This was in addition to refocused social media content and officers out and about on the beat.”
An innovative campaign was also highlighted which helped staff to identify when people were more vulnerable to exploitation or domestic abuse during the pandemic.
In addition high risk domestic abuse locations were scheduled for fortnightly face to face visits.
Leicestershire Police also strengthened its work with victim support services to back victims of domestic abuse.
A survey by Leicestershire Police found 80 per cent of people thought the police response to the coronavirus was good or excellent.
Just 19 per cent thought it fair, poor or very poor.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “We have come a long way together.
“I am proud of how Leicestershire Police has played its part in keeping people safe in the pandemic and I am pleased that the independent HMIC has recognised our collective efforts.
"It is clear the report acknowledges the dedication and commitment of staff throughout this pandemic.”
The county’s senior officer added: “Officers and staff exposed themselves to a high risk in order to maintain the policing service and I am humbled how we all pulled together and adapted.
"I would like to thank our partners throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who worked with us tirelessly.
"Leicestershire Police led the way in a number of ways and this is illustrated in the report.
“We have used technology, partnerships and dug deeper into vulnerability to protect in ways that we have never had before.
“At the same time we were making arrests and preventing crime and recruiting – normal policing did not stop.
"There is more to do,” stressed Mr Cole.
“Not only to keep ourselves safe but to work together to look at the effect of Covid on policing and justice.
“We will work together to learn from this experience and move forward through this pandemic.”
Lord Willy Bach, Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Over the past 12 months the police have been faced with a relentless series of change and challenge. “They have risen to the occasion, working tirelessly to keep people safe.
“They have carried out their role with sensitivity, seeking to engage, explain and encourage before considering enforcement.
“I am proud to see the force’s professionalism and dedication reflected in this report.”
He added: “Throughout the pandemic we have seen different agencies and communities, working together to support people in our community and to protect them as far as possible.
“Now I hope that the same focus and partnership approach will be applied to the courts backlog, which has undoubtedly suffered as a result of the restrictions.
“People want to see justice, they deserve it and they have waited long enough.”