A custody officer at a Belfast police station has hit out at the “shambolic” provision of personal protection equipment (PPE).
The whistleblower at Musgrave station spoke anonymously to the BBC Stephen Nolan show, with his comments voiced by a producer.
He said the level of PPE available in a Covid suite - a block of around 50 cells for patients with symptoms - was “non-existent” for staff who are often assaulted and spat on.
“We have masks that are horrendous, they were actually recalled because they didn’t meet any of the standards at all," he said.
“We have nurses in there that are wearing everything you can think of that you would wear in a hospital and we’re just standing there with a pair of gloves on and a terrible mask.”
He claimed the masks provided were out of date and came with a warning that they didn’t stop the spread of infectious diseases.
Describing the conditions, he said most of the 50 cells available were being used.
“You name it. Everything from drink drivers to domestics, the people there just going absolutely buck daft.
“Going through mental health issues, no one can control them so they bring them to us. The powers above in the police is ‘just get on with it’.”
Some of the routine risks are having to fingerprint staff, and having to physically wake patients who are intoxicated.
He also claimed staff were told to take down signs in the Covid-suite as there was no room left for other detainees.
This means detainees would not know if they were in the same area as those with symptoms.
A statement from the PSNI said: “We’re doing everything we can to make sure the right PPE is made available to officers and staff for the roles they perform.”
The statement added it was “a matter of concern” and encouraged staff to bring forward any issues they may have.
All the PPE provided is said to comply with standards issued by the public health agency and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
The PSNI said it was working with police and staff associations and would continue to work with them on “emerging PPE issues”.