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Police officers told not to download Covid-19 app on work phones

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 28/09/2020 April Roach
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Police officers have been told not to download the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app on to their work phones.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) issued the guidance to forces across the country following the launch of the app last Thursday for England and Wales.

A spokesman denied suggestions that the move was a result of “security implications”.

Video: How does the Covid-19 tracing app work? (Press Association)

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“Police forces use a variety of mobile devices with different system restrictions,” the NPCC said.

“It is important that we have confidence that the NHS app will work for officers and staff consistently across the country.

"It is for this reason that we have recommended that officers and staff download the app to their personal as opposed to work devices, rather than any suggestion of security implications.”

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed what he called “the fastest download of an app in British history” having reached 12.4 million downloads by midday on Monday.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to a media crew near the Houses of Parliament on September 24, 2020 in London, England. As Coronavirus cases continue to rise in the UK, earlier this week the British Prime Minister announced new measures to help curb the spread of the virus.  These include shop assistants, taxi drivers and waiting staff to wear masks, pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm and only offer table service. Further restrictions on sporting events were also announced. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to a media crew near the Houses of Parliament on September 24, 2020 in London, England. As Coronavirus cases continue to rise in the UK, earlier this week the British Prime Minister announced new measures to help curb the spread of the virus. These include shop assistants, taxi drivers and waiting staff to wear masks, pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm and only offer table service. Further restrictions on sporting events were also announced. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“I would urge everybody, including every single member in this House, to join the 12.4 million,” Mr Hancock said.

More than 1.5 million venue check-ins were recorded on Saturday while more than 460,000 businesses have downloaded and printed QR code posters that can be scanned by the app to check-in to premises, it added.

These QR codes allow contact tracers to reach multiple people if an outbreak is identified in a venue.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: In this photo illustration, the UK governments new test and trace application is displayed on a handheld device, on September 24, 2020 in London, England. The new NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app was available to download from today.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: In this photo illustration, the UK governments new test and trace application is displayed on a handheld device, on September 24, 2020 in London, England. The new NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app was available to download from today. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The app uses Bluetooth technology to keep a tab of close proximity encounters with other people and informing them if one later tests positive for the virus. It is currently in the number one spot in both iOS and Android app stores.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own contact tracing apps.

Additional reporting by PA Media.

Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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