Coronavirus Advice


All the official government guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Health Advice is available at the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/



Due to the current situation with COVID-19, all OPCC staff are working from home and our office is closed to the public.  We will still be responding to emails and enquiries, dealing with complaints and ensuring that Beacon continues to provide support to victims.  Please visit this website for more information and regular updates.  Thank you in advance for your support and patience.

Apply for £20m COVID-19 Emergency funding domestic abuse and sexual violence support services

Charities or groups who wish t
o apply for funding to help victims of Domestic Abuse or Sexual violencee should complete this form /fluidcms/files/files/MoJ_COVID-19-Extraordinary-Funding-Requests-to-Hertfordshire-PCC_NEW.xlsx  and return it be email to commissioner@herts.pcc.pnn.gov.uk. Please help us to help you by ensuring that all fields on the form are completed before submission. 

The money is being made available by the Ministry of Justice to support vulnerable people, and is being distributed via Police and Crime Commissioners.

Under the plans there is £10m available in England and Wales to boost the domestic abuse services that are already funded by PCCs, plus £5m for new providers.
Another £5m will be awarded to current and new sexual violence service providers.

Funding applications must be made by Sunday May 31st to the office of the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner. 

As part of the process PCCs must conduct an assessment of need for COVID-19 related emergency funding in relation to both sexual violence and domestic abuse support services in their local area.

The COVID-19 extraordinary funding is from 24 March to 31 October 2020 to meet the additional costs registered charities or social enterprise have incurred or will incur whilst adapting their services during the pandemic, and to cope with demand increases resulting from it, during this time period.
For example, funding may be used to:
  • meet essential costs of sustaining current activities, such the purchasing of assets to support the move to remote and digital working, and additional staff to cover those unable to work for reasons related to the pandemic; and
  • address increased demand.
  • address short term dispurtion
This process is be open to all relevant support organisations in the county – and encourages funding requests from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics characteristics (BAME, LGBT, disabled victims).

More details on the fund can be found at The Ministry of Justice website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-funding-for-domestic-abuse-and-sexual-violence-support-services
 

David Lloyd message

Although on May 13th some of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions changed, but they have not been lifted and do remain in place.

For further information, please visit socsi.in/pXkQh

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has given an update on policing and criminal justice in Hertfordshire during lockdown.

He thanked residents and business for following the government advice and expressed his gratitude for emergency workers, frontline personnel and the volunteers working through the crisis.

Officers have enough supplies of PPE equipment and priority court cases are still being heard, using remote video facilities.

“This has been an extremely difficult time, most of all for those who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus, but I have been hugely impressed by how Hertfordshire has come together as a community to fight it. 

“I would like to thank all residents and businesses for the outstanding way they have followed the government’s advice to stay home.

My heartfelt gratitude extends to the dedication of our emergency workers, frontline key personnel and volunteers, who are pulling together to keep us safe,” said Mr Lloyd.



“I can reassure you all that our police force is standing up well to the pressure. Officers have sufficient supplies of PPE equipment and they are continuing to respond to emergency calls and investigate offences.”

Crime is generally down by a third across the county, and the police are aware on areas of concern including shop burglaries, excessive speeding and fly tipping.

Officer absences due to the virus have been kept to a minimum and thanks to the dedication of our officers and staff, he said.

“Each week I chair a meeting of the Hertfordshire Criminal Justice Board where, together with the CPS, courts, prison, probation and youth justice services, we address coronavirus issues. Everyone is working incredibly hard to keep the justice system functioning, including using video conferencing to enable priority hearings.

"We are aware of many of the issues and concerns that victims of crime and witness may face and are offering support to those in need.”

He added: “The message in Hertfordshire is a positive one and it's a tribute to the fact that we have a police force which is fully part of its community and in turn is embraced and supported by it. 

“However, we have many challenges to face as the lockdown continues.  It’s therefore vital that we all approach these next few weeks with same spirit and discipline as we have done for the last month.”

Individuals are currently only permitted to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
• Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
• One form of exercise a day - for example, a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of their household
• Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
• Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home.
Remember, gatherings of more than two people are only permitted in very limited circumstances, such as:
• If they are of the same household
• If it is necessary for work purposes
• To attend a funeral
• If it is reasonably necessary for some situations, such as providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person.

This means that families should not be travelling to the homes of other family members, or friends, for gatherings.

Mr Lloyd is particulary concerned over a rise in Domestic Violence in the county since the lockdown begun.

“Confidential support and advice is available through the Beacon, the county’s Victim Care Centre. Visit their website at www.hertfordshirebeacon.org or call 03000 11 55 55 in confidence if you are victim, or suspect someone is being abused.”

There has also been an increase if flytipping across the county as recycling centres are closed. Residents should keep waste that can’t be collected kerbside on their property and not leave it outside recycling centres or by the roadside. This is fly tipping, which is illegal.

Private landowners who have rubbish dumped on their land could have it removed for free, thanks to a scheme introduced by the PCC. Visit the Commissioners website for more infor https://www.hertscommissioner.org/2019-07-three-more-districts-join-fly-tipping-clean-up-scheme  or www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/flytipping

Hertfordshire Police are telling residents who want to report a COVID-19 related incident, such as a mass gathering, to use the online methods of reporting where possible, which can be found at https://www.herts.police.uk/Information-and-services/About-us/Contact.
 
 

The Role of Police

Hertfordshire Police have issued advice to all residents following the new powers given to them to protect the public.

They are designed to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

Individuals are only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

• Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
• One form of exercise a day - for example, a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of their household
• Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
• Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home.

Officers now have the following powers for those who ignore the advice: 

• Instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse
• Ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
• Issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
• Issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence.

Hertfordshire Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “This is a public health emergency and compliance with these measures are considered necessary to achieve the objective of effective social distancing.

“We have all heard the scientific advice which clearly states this will slow the spread of the virus and save people’s lives.

“The Constabulary urges self-compliance within all Hertfordshire’s communities. Officers and staff will encourage all citizens to do so, remind those who we see in public who we believe may not be following them to do so, and only resort to enforcement action as a last resort.

“If we all work at this together we will slow the spread, save more lives and enable us to return to normality sooner.”

Hertfordshire Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “This is a public health emergency and compliance with these measures are considered necessary to achieve the objective of effective social distancing.

Please follow the Commissioner’s and Constabulary’s social media for updates and use the website www.herts.police.uk to contact the police rather than dialling 101, and only call 999 in an emergency.
 
 

Volunteer Information

Any one wanting to volunteer in Hertfordshire towards helping follow residents can contact Team Herts Volunteering
 

Anyone currently using a social care service should expect that to continue, however they should speak to their care provider first or call on 0300 123 4042 for other urgent care needs.
Frequently asked questions for people with care and support needs can be accessed online, www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/serviceupdates
Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has given £50,000 in emergency funding to charities supporting residents during the coronavirus crisis.

Commissioner launches £50,000 fund for charities supporting residents during crisis

David Lloyd is making the money available to community and voluntary groups to use quickly to provide help for vulnerable individuals and families in crisis.

The Commissioner’s funding will enable the Herts Community Foundation (HCF) to award grants of up to £2,000.



Mr Lloyd said: “My role is not just about policing, I have a broad public duty to reduce crime and the fear of crime. Now more than ever the community needs to work together to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“We already support many charities to deliver vital services to victims, the vulnerable and to support crime prevention and other work.

“Most of them are continuing to function extremely well during the crisis and I thank them for the flexibility and innovation they have shown. 

“However, some have told me they are suffering difficulties or are facing additional pressures at the moment so I want to provide some additional help at this difficult time.”
The money will be distributed alongside the HCF’s Coronavirus Disaster Relief fund, with an OPCC staff member overseeing the awards of up to £2,000.

Currently £50,000 has been ring-fenced by the Commissioner for the fund, but further money may follow if there is a demand.

“My team are in touch with those groups delivering services for us and will work with them to see what their needs are and how best we can help them,” added Mr Lloyd. 

“It is essential that we make sure we maintain vital services during this crisis, when users need them most. But we must also ensure that the third sector organisations are still able to function when it ends.”



HCF emergency funding is targeted at local charities supporting people facing a range of social issues including social isolation, food poverty, poverty and poor mental health.

Helen Gray, Foundation Director for HCF said, “Many people are suffering, not just physically due to ill health, but also economically and socially.

“We are proud to be playing a role in making sure donations to support those in need get to where they are needed most in our community, as quickly as possible. This is why we setup the Coronavirus Disaster Relief Fund, to provide rapid support to local charities in this incredibly challenging time”.

To get more information, donate or to apply for assistance contact http://www.hertscf.org.uk/coronavirus-disaster-relief-fund-appeal

Groups that have already got money include Mediation Hertfordshire to pay for telephone counselling and conflict coaching for vulnerable families, including those experiencing domestic violence plus Citizens Advice Welwyn Hatfield to purchase home working IT equipment for two advisors who are providing advice and guidance to a range of vulnerable clients.
 

Scams and Fraud Alerts

Unfortunately there are criminals who are seeking to exploit this situation by operating scams to steal money. These are mainly being conducted by telephone, email or the internet. 

Hertfordshire's OWL alert service has highlighted just some of the frauds being attempted

Doorstep crime
- Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.

Doorstep cleansing services - An offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Email scams - Trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.

Fake online resources – Such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.

Refund scams - Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.

Counterfeit goods - Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.

Telephone scams - As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.

Donation scams - There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’



Members of the public are being urged to keep in contact with family members regularly and inform them of the most prolific scams and the possible dangers to them. If someone has been targeted by a scam it can be reported to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/  or by calling 0300 123 2040.

For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/

Be particulary cautious of any demands for money that reference the Coronavirus. More information and advice can be found at the Friends Against Scams website