There has been a lot of conflicting news in the media regarding how the police are patrolling, and in some cases, enforcing the government rules during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Some documented stories have mentioned the use of drones to patrol areas to spot people in breach of the rules, others have involved officers checking on peoples shopping to make sure they are not purchasing non-essential items and moving people from their front lawns.
There have been several other stories too which have not presented some police forces in a good light, however, in the majority of cases, these headlines will only tell part of the story and in many cases, there have been a minority of officers who have perhaps been well intended, but not necessarily followed their force`s policy.
It has also got to be borne in mind that the Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented; this fast-moving picture has involved public sector workers trying hard to interpret the rules as best they can to keep people safe.
Current news would tend to suggest that the lockdown will continue for at least the next few weeks, therefore the public will be tested in the foreseeable future. It is therefore important that officers on patrol work with communities and are not heavy handed, so in the event that patience does wear thin in some cases, then the time to enforce may be needed at this stage.
For now, there is a simple three-step approach to policing: Engage, explain and enforce, where officers should be out as much as possible to reassure the public and actively communicate with them, where they can then explain the reason for the rules in instances where they see people who are not following the rules.
Only where enforcement is needed should it be used – a good example of this was last weekend where a motorist travelling through Hampshire from Kent and en-route to the West Country with surf boards on the roof. The driver refused to turn back, so they were reported for summons under the new 2020 Covid laws.
Below is Hampshire Constabulary`s message:
The Constabulary understands that people may be worried and seeking advice and information and it is working hard to keep you safe whilst still responding to emergency and high priority calls.
The public are being urged that if it is not an emergency or urgent, to use online services instead of calling 101.
In order to keep resources focused where they are most needed, people in our community are being asked to stay at home, following government guidance, which states that you should only leave your home for one of the following four reasons:
* Shop only for basic needs, such as food and medicine and to keep such trips infrequent.
* Going out for one form of exercise daily, like a cycle, run or a walk and either doing this alone, or with members of your household.
* Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
* Travelling only where essential, including to and from work, if you are not able to work from home.
The above four reasons are exceptions and even when doing these things, you should be minimising the time spent outside of the home and adhere to the two-metre social distancing from people who are not in your household. Washing of hands on your return home is essential
It can be difficult to know what to do, or not to do; this situation does need all of us to take a moment and think about what we’re doing and to assess the potential risk.
This is a virus that spreads by human physical contact. It’s sensible to do everything you can to minimise the amount of physical contact that you have with other people.
We appreciate that the vast majority of people are following the stay at home measures and we’re very grateful to them for doing so.
We encourage people to continue to follow these measures and officers are patrolling to advise people who are seen to be acting in contravention to these government implemented rules.
As a last resort, officers will enforce the rules, however, Hampshire Constabulary would prefer to work with the public to resolve situations through clear communication and explaining why they might want to behave differently first.
By using the following link, there is more information, plus videos from Chief Constable, Olivia Pinkney, who, on behalf of the National Police Chief`s Council, explains the `stay at home` measures, including what gatherings are currently okay and how the restrictions are being policed and enforced.
You can keep up to date with the latest government advice during COVID-19 and keep you and your family safe.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Office.