RSMS COVID-19 Compliance Officers: A Day in the Life

Red Snapper Managed Services (RSMS) COVID Compliance Officers (CCOs) are currently on-patrol in various Local Authorities around the country; actively helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and providing advice and support to local business owners and the wider community on how best to navigate the latest government guidance.

Since October 2020 RSMS CCOs have carried out more than 9,300 business inspections across the UK, reporting back to local councils and law enforcement bodies on potential safety breaches or non-compliance with the latest restrictions, as well as helping out at essential local services such as COVID vaccination and testing centres.

The CCOs also conduct spot checks on local businesses, such as supermarkets, shops and takeaways, to ensure the correct safety measures are in place and that the latest guidance and safety regulations are being followed.

The CCO teams are deployed in identifiable uniforms along with PPE, communication devices and body-worn cameras in order to document formal evidence of any non-compliance.

We sat down with some of our CCOs to speak to them about what it is they do on a daily basis to help support their local communities during the pandemic.

Jane – COVID-19 Operations Manager (Portsmouth)

Martin – COVID-19 Operations Manager (Slough)

Amandeep – CCO (Slough)

Andy – CCO (Portsmouth)

As part of the CCO team, what does a normal day consist of?

Jane – COVID-19 Operations Manager (Portsmouth)

As the Operations Manager I am responsible for the day-to-day direction and running of the COVID Business Compliance Officer teams. Acting as the bridge between the council’s requests and the operational team, I provide the patrol plans, the scheduling of my team’s work, guidance on how to approach a situation, and provide feedback where I see improvements can be made. I am in contact with the Council Regulatory team to ensure we achieve their aims and respond to the information they receive from the public.

Amandeep – CCO (Slough)

As an on-patrol COVID Compliance Officer I primarily conduct inspections on businesses and provide advice or guidance to ensure they are compliant according to the government guidelines. As well as this, I do high visibility patrols around the borough while educating the general public about the risks of COVID-19 and how to keep yourself protected – along with addressing any concerns or questions the public may have in regards to it.

Andy – CCO (Portsmouth)

Our role is more to do with prevention, education and advice, rather than catching people out and issuing fines.

We visit businesses in Portsmouth, gather evidence for Portsmouth City Council, give advice, observe and report on open spaces such as the Seafront and viewpoints where people may gather.


Do you have any concerns about catching COVID while on patrol?

Amandeep: Naturally, there will always a concern about catching COVID-19, however there are measures put in place to keep us protected whilst on patrol.

Before starting the job all team members are trained on proper use of PPE as well as completing online courses and assessments to ensure we are all well informed. In the office there are countless supplies of face masks, gloves, sanitisers and nasal sprays for when we are on shift. As well as this, the council has provided free testing for the Officers at any time, putting any doubts at ease. Personally I carry full PPE when I am on shift and I carry extra face masks in case a member of public may need one.

Andy: Yes, we meet lots of people every day, but we are issued with full PPE – face masks, hand gel, nasal spray, and gloves – and we are not as exposed as some sectors such as the Policing or Nursing.

We try not to take any unnecessary risks. Even in our office we observe social distancing.

This week we have had our first jabs arranged by the council and they are opening a walk-in testing centre.


Have you come across any issues while on patrol?

Martin – COVID-19 Operations Manager (Slough)

The most common issues my teams encounter are unlawful gatherings, lack of social distancing and people not wearing masks. There is also sometimes a lack of awareness from businesses in relation to the legal requirements related to the current rules, in particular the need to assess and educate their staff in relation to the risks and their control measures.

Jane: We are still seeing people who are entering businesses without masks and [are] not being challenged by the business owner as to whether they are exempt. This has improved over time, but it is still continuing. Occasionally we are still finding businesses that are not complying with the basic requirements, e.g. signage, hand sanitizer, social distancing markings.

Amandeep: One of the issues I see most often whilst on patrol is people gathered in large groups unwilling to disperse. Other issues are people not wearing face masks when entering business premises, and when challenged the response is often a poor excuse or sometimes even aggressive behaviour.


Have you experienced any challenges?

Jane: One of the main challenges has been the changing Tiers and Lockdowns and their associated – but differing – regulations.

The regulations are often different for each business type as well.  This has meant regular changes to the inspection regime and the work that the team conducts.

An example is in the space of three days we moved from Tier 2, to Tier 3 for one day, and then into Tier 4.  The inspection system that we are using is very nimble and we were able to provide the team with new inspection templates for each of those shifts. This ensures that the team are always asking the correct questions and able to provide advice whenever the regulations change.

Amandeep: The main challenge I have encountered in Slough is educating the public about COVID-19 and dealing with those who believe it to be a hoax. Being such a diverse borough you really get to see how different communities are responding to the government guidelines put in place. In some areas there is a strong belief that COVID does not exist and it becomes a challenge to make people understand that although they have a right to believe in their views, guidelines must be followed for those who do want to protect themselves and people around them.


What are some of your – or your teams – wins/successes?

Jane: The biggest success has to be the improved level of compliance with the regulations.  Some businesses have been visited on a number of occasions, and it is possible to track the improvements that they have made. Ultimately this is saving lives by cutting transmission rate in the community.  Some of the feedback from business owners is that it has also made them feel safer.

Overall, the public are very pleased to see the team on patrol and they have received many positive comments.

Martin: There has been a noticeable improvement in compliance from businesses in the area.

The team have also had a positive impact on community issues in recognised hotspots where multi-agency work has been undertaken to tackle some of the long-standing issue in these areas.

Being one of the first projects of this nature we have also helped shape subsequent projects, with many adopting our policies and procedures that have been recognised as good practise.

Amandeep: My main success is helping businesses become 100% compliant whilst building a positive relationship with them to a point where I can walk in and be welcomed with open arms. It’s pretty heart-warming when business owners and the public thank me for all the work I am doing, it really does make me think that we are having a positive impact on the community.


Why are you a COVID Compliance Officer?

Andy: After thirty years as a Police Officer, I attended University of Portsmouth for four years, then I was looking for a new challenge – but not something that necessarily involved a uniform or enforcement!

As a result of my police service, I feel I have good communication skills which are vital in this role. I find the work interesting and it feels as if I am contributing something to society once again.

Martin: I wanted to use my skills and experience in establishing a project of this nature, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Jane: I am a retired Police Inspector who specialised in Operational Planning. I wanted to work in a way that assisted the UK effort to tackle COVID and this opportunity arose. This has allowed me to utilize the skills that I gained over my policing career.

Amandeep: I am a COVID Compliance Officer because it is something different. The role itself is only there because of COVID so naturally I was intrigued to know what the role was and what was expected of me. I did not expect to find the job to overlap with my job history so much and to be perfect for the skill set I have.

Slough being a diverse borough, it’s been interesting to see how I have been challenged on a day to day basis and I can say it has definitely been a challenge! But it also has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I get to work with some amazing individuals, which has made us into a great team.

If you wish to find out more about how RSMS can supply Covid Ambassadors into your local authority, please get in touch with us today