How police respond to the relaxations of some of the Government’s Covid 19 regulations was the subject of the latest scrutiny session by Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.
Mr Coppinger used a video link-up to quiz Chief Constable Richard Lewis on the application of the new regulations and other issues concerning local policing.
The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0BKq2EY0l8
CC Lewis said the Force is still awaiting further guidance on policing style from The College of Policing but expected that the current ‘four Es’ policy of engage, explain, encourage and then if necessary enforcement, will remain the norm.
However he assured the public that officers have discretion to move to enforcement immediately if required – for example when dealing with those who refuse to adhere to the rules and persistent offenders.
With regard to the new guidance announced by the Prime Minister, Mr Lewis urged the public to visit the Government’s website for advice rather than call the police.
He said: “It’s important members of the public do contact us with regard to matters of crime and the other issues they have always called about: missing people and the vulnerable needing support, those phone calls should continue to happen.
“When it comes to guidance in relation to Covid it is important members of the public visit the Gov.uk website” said the Chief.
The Chief told the Commissioner he anticipates an increase in legitimate road traffic and travel to popular locations across the county. He also confirmed that the Force does have adequate PPE for officers, staff and volunteers.
The Force had a busy Bank Holiday weekend dealing with over 1200 calls and Mr Lewis told the Commissioner he felt the Covid messages were getting through.
Mr Lewis said: “Generally speaking, the public did an extraordinary job adhering to social distancing measures, not just in Cleveland but right across the country and we should be proud of the role we have played in Cleveland and Teesside in adhering to that guidance.”
He added that the Force is still digesting the changes announced on Sunday: “We await the College of Policing guidance and further information from Government around policing and policing style. It does need to be led nationally to ensure there is no postcode lottery with the way these changes are enacted. As soon as we have a firm understanding of what we can and can’t do, what we will and won’t do, we will communicate that out.”
Mr Coppinger said: “It’s very important that where the police are given new powers there is a robust scrutiny process to ensure they are used fairly and proportionately and that any concerns the public may have can be addressed and these video sessions are an important part of that process.
“Based on the information I have, I believe the Force has struck the right balance in their approach to policing during this crisis and I want to thank the Chief for leading us through these tough times and all officers, staff and volunteers for their efforts.”
Posted on Tuesday 12th May 2020