More than a dozen Hertfordshire police officers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, new figures show.

Hertfordshire Constabulary says the force has “worked hard” to safeguard staff since the start of the pandemic to protect frontline officers and the public.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the PA news agency show a total of 13 police officers in the county have tested positive for the virus.

The force's records are up to October 26.

Those with positive tests were nine police constables, three sergeants and one inspector.

Chief Superintendent Matt Nicholls, from Hertfordshire Constabulary, who is leading the Force’s response to COVID-19, said: “We’ve worked hard to safeguard all of our staff, following national guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) since the start of the pandemic to protect our frontline officers and the public.

“We regularly update all risk assessments covering police headquarters and our police stations and have thorough guidance in place to keep our offices COVID-secure, maintaining social distancing, using PPE and an enhanced cleaning regime, with many staff agile working from home.”

He added that the force has systems in place to ensure staff who have coronavirus symptoms can self-isolate and get tested “quickly”.

Ch Supt Nicholls added: “We have maintained a good policing service in our communities throughout the pandemic and I am grateful for the ongoing commitment and hard work of all of our officers and police staff who make me proud to work for Hertfordshire Constabulary.

“Our workforce is our greatest asset and we make every effort to support everyone’s physical and emotional wellbeing, with wraparound support in place.”

Nationally, at least 849 police officers have tested positive at the 26 forces in the UK which answered a Freedom of Information Act request.

Durham and Wiltshire police forces could not provide the number of officers with positive coronavirus tests.

However, Durham Police said 37 officers had been absent due to Covid-19, while Wiltshire Police said 134 officers had reported Covid-19-related sickness.

In August, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing issued new guidance to police forces on the use of personal protective equipment.

Advice was also given on social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures, but it was accepted that maintaining a two-metre distance was not always possible.

Chairman of the Police Federation John Apter said it was “inevitable” some officers would catch the virus given their nature of work.

But he added: “There is also the constant worry of bringing the virus home to their loved ones which is exacerbated when they deal with offenders who weaponise the virus by spitting, biting and coughing - which is disgusting and unacceptable.

“People need to realise that behind the uniform, officers are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.”

Mr Apter urged the public “not to give up now” on combating the virus and to follow latest guidelines to reduce its spread.

The NPCC also urged the public to follow regulations.

Chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Whilst demand levels remain high we are well-prepared to respond to any crime or other issues that arise.”