Officials representing the Police Federation of England & Wales have voiced their concern regarding the effectiveness of policing the lockdown in its current guise.
Last night, Prime Minister Johnson addressed the nation and outlined the government’s plans for a gradual release of the rules regarding the lockdown.
In the 15 minute pre-recorded speech, the Prime Minister announced that: “from this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.
“You can sit in the sun in your local park; you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household”.
Under the previous set of rules, households were only permitted one session of exercise each day.
Mr Johnson also added: “You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them”, but he did not clarify what this increase would amount to.
Regarding people returning to work, Mr Johnson said: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance, those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will, therefore, be limited.
“So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.
“And to ensure you are safe at work, we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.
“And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following COVID-secure standards”.
But many voices from within the policing community have said that policing these new rules will be ‘impossible’.
Brian Booth, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said:
“Policing COVID 19 has become impossible. My colleagues cannot engage, explain, encourage or enforce such woolly rules.
“This is now down to the public to police itself. Please let’s avoid a second spike”.
Chair of British Transport Police Federation, Nigel Goodband said:
“Our members will play a crucial role in enabling those people who have no choice but to use public transport to return to work. There is a delicate balance to be struck between helping people travel to work and doing what we can to prevent the virus from spreading; the longer the pandemic continues, the more challenging it is to police.
“We understand detailed guidance will be issued by the government tomorrow (11th May). It’s critical that this clarifies what is expected of our colleagues because at the moment we don’t feel it’s clear.
“We would encourage everyone who is travelling to work to think about their own safety and the safety of others. The message remains that if you can avoid using public transport, please do so.”
During an interview with Kay Burley on Sky News, Police Federation of England & Wales Chairman, John Apter, said:
“We hear people say it’s about using common sense. Some people we deal with don’t have common sense – we’ve seen that during lockdown. We need crystal clear guidance. Policing is being made more difficult.”
As of 10th May, 31,855 people have died in the UK after contracting COVID-19, including over 190 healthcare workers.
Globally, at least 283,535 people have died of COVID-19 (WHO confirmed) with 4,209,823 people confirmed as having been infected with the virus — although the actual number of both deaths and infections globally is expected to be far higher than what has been recorded thus far.
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