The PSA met, via teleconference, with the Sheriff, Ms Tracey Hall, on 19 March in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members would be aware the situation with COVID-19 is evolving and changing rapidly.
We discussed issues that members from the Sheriff’s Officers Vocational Branch Advisory Group had sent to us on behalf of our members and Ms Hall’s response were:
- In relation to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): we were advised the Sheriff is going through Police orders for PPEs. She has ordered 16,500 face masks and other PPEs. During these challenging times, all departments are struggling to fill their orders.
- At the security scanning area NSW Health Guidelines are being followed. Close contact with an individual is defined as 15 minutes. No officer would be in direct contact with an individual for 15 minutes, so we are therefore within NSW Health Guideline parameters.
- With regards to what are Police doing in practical terms in providing PPEs to their officers, she was not able to speak to that, but again is using their facility to order PPEs for her staff.
- Field Work – all evictions staff must keep a 1.5-metre distance rule when on a property. Staff are to call ahead. There is a checklist for staff to use. Staff are not to touch property but to make a paper seizure notification and determine if the property is vacant. There is a delay and will be a continuing delay on mortgagee evictions.
- There is a checklist and notice on all court doors advising not to enter if a person has COVID-19. This again follows NSW Health Guidelines. There is no legislative policy for Sheriffs to direct people out of the building. However, no officer will be punished if they direct people not to attend court because they present unwell or if they harass or intimidate staff. They have also asked Legal to develop a script for staff to use when asking/directing people to leave if they appear unwell.
- The Sheriff’s Executive meets each morning in regards to COVID-19. It has agreed to keep the PSA informed of any changes/updates so there is clear and consistent communication to our members. The PSA and NSW Sheriffs will be meeting on a regular basis.
It is essential individuals maintain a high level of self-hygiene, washing hands regularly as stated by health protocols. Wash down benches and surfaces at an increased level. Get detainees to increase their personal hygiene and unit cleanliness.
More information can be found at NSW Health HERE.
When communicating on this matter we need to remember to remain calm. If you are not high-risk or live with someone who is high-risk, getting the virus presents minimal problems.