Officers ‘caught in the crossfire’
The chairman of Wiltshire’s Police Federation says the latest lockdown announcement has left officers caught between a rock and a hard place.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that people would be able to exercise outside as many times as they want, drive to outdoor open spaces no matter how far, and spend time outdoors other than for exercise as long as they don’t meet up with more than one person from outside their household and observe social distancing rules.
The fines for breaching the coronavirus rules will be increased from £60 to £100. It will be reduced to £50 if the fine is paid within two weeks. Those caught repeatedly flouting the rules could be fined as much as £3,200.
Reacting to the relaxing of the rules, Wiltshire Police Federation chairman Insp Mark Andrews echoed fears raised by policing unions nationally.
“Our concern is that the message delivered by the prime minister is confusing at best and will lead to members of the community in Wiltshire to be confused and go beyond the guidance that’s been given – through no fault of their own in most cases,” Mr Andrews said.
“It will put our officers in a place where they have to try and enforce what the government is saying without any guidance.
“Our officers are going to be caught between a rock and a hard place – of poor government guidance and the public’s confusion.”
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “We will continue to police in a proportionate and balanced way based on the fundamental concept of policing by consent, engaging with our communities first and foremost and using enforcement action as a last resort as and where required.
“Public safety and supporting the national effort to tackle coronavirus remains our top priority.
“We all have to take personal responsibility for our actions. This requires a huge community effort and we urge all of our communities in Wiltshire and Swindon to stay alert and continue to play their part in the national effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in order to save lives, and to continue to follow the government guidance as per the gov.uk website.”
He added: “We appreciate this remains a very unsettling time for the public as we move into the next phase in the battle against this global pandemic.
“We expect to see any necessary amendments to regulations enshrined into legislation this week which will provide further clarity for us, and for our communities.
Police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson called for more clarity from the government regarding the new lockdown rules: “I have been impressed by the way the vast majority of our communities have adhered to the government’s guidance but it is crucial they are given the latest information in a clear and concise way.
“What is clear is that each and every one of us continues to have a vital part to play in the national effort to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”
He said he had pressed the need for clearer guidance from government while on a call with the policing minister on Monday.
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