POLICE officers in Wiltshire will wear face masks, as well as other virus-protective equipment, while on duty, the force has said.

Wiltshire Police says teams have been given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) after stock arrived yesterday - something the police says has been a challenge to obtain.

Those wearing the kit includes officers, PCSOs, Local Crime Investigators and Special Constables.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “The welfare of my officers and staff is of paramount importance to me and getting the right protective equipment to them is crucial.

“It is no secret that, whilst responding to this unprecedented, national health pandemic, there have been some issues with getting the right quantity of kit to emergency services across the country. Wiltshire Police is no exception to this.

“However, further to the regional and local coordination we have in place, we have secured a substantial quantity of protective equipment which is being collected and distributed to front line officers, staff and special constable volunteers. The roll out is commencing today and those working across the bank holiday weekend will be receiving their supplies imminently.

“We are following the nationally adopted guidance which is based on the latest evidence and science provided to us by Public Health England.

“I am in regular contact with the four other Chief Constable’s in the region to ensure there is consistency in the way we are all addressing this issue and we will, of course, all support each other as much as possible.”

Following this rollout of additional PPE, members of the public may notice many police officers and staff going about their duties whilst wearing additional equipment such as face masks.

CC Pritchard added: “If you see your local police officers out and about wearing additional protective equipment, please do not be alarmed by this - I fully appreciate that this change in their appearance may cause concern and uncertainty, but it is crucial that my officers are well equipped so they can continue to protect and serve their communities.”

Yesterday, ahead of the Easter Weekend, the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum (LRF) issued a strong message to the public urging them to stay home and avoid all unnecessary travel.

CC Pritchard, who chairs the LRF, said: “I know the past few weeks have been incredibly challenging for people, as the financial, economic and social implications of these necessary restrictions hit home. But it is important to reiterate how vital it is that we continue to follow the Government’s guidelines and stay at home.”