More clarity called for as police begin enforcing new lockdown rules
The organisation representing the interests of police officers in Suffolk has called for clarity from the government on enforcing updated lockdown rules.
Fines are set to rise to £100 from today as the government warned of tougher enforcement measures for anyone flouting the rules.
The government’s 50-page recovery strategy permits unlimited outdoor exercise and travel to open spaces – but does not contain examples of when people would be considered to be breaking the rules and liable for fines – only that police will act with discretion and common sense in applying the measures.
Although the government said it will seek to make clearer to the public what is not permitted, concerns have been raised over a lack of clarity for those tasked with enforcing the law.
Darren Harris, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, said: “The initial lockdown was enforceable and set at about the right level, in that people understood what to do. A certain element didn’t or wouldn’t, and thus received fines and sentences.
“As of Wednesday, there will be uncertainty – and there needs to be some strong guidance from the government about what’s expected. You can only play the hand you’re dealt.
“The public need clarity on what’s expected of them, in order for them to police it themselves.
“Because the law says you can drive to the beach, does it make it the right thing to do in this time of pandemic?
“We talk about common sense, but my interpretation might be different from the next person – and some will twist the law to make it fit for their purpose.
“The consequence of an increased infection rate will be the need for stricter enforcement, so I would urge people to make the right decisions.
“Internally, we’re dealing with our own social distancing and how we manage a large workforce and how we use.
“Sickness figures have been really good, which shows measures have worked and we’re overcoming this as an organisation.”
Suffolk police reiterated the statement of National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt, who on Sunday said current guidance would be reviewed as more details become clear, and that the core British principle of policing by consent would continue to be at the heart of the police’s approach.
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