The people of Cleveland have been praised for their “enormous amount of common sense” in ignoring two mass gatherings planned for the area.
The comment came from Chief Constable Richard Lewis during the latest scrutiny session by Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.
The session also saw the Chief respond to in-depth questioning about how new Neighbourhood Police officers will be deployed; use of ANPR and other intelligence to tackle breaches of the Covid regulations; whether the CPS has withdrawn any Cleveland fixed penalty notices; preparations to police the area this coming Bank Holiday weekend and the force’s continuing journey of improvement.
The Police and Crime Commissioner also confirmed the force is one of only a handful nationally to have maintained the highest level of business continuity during the crisis – known as blue status.
Commenting on two mass gatherings, apparently organised by people from outside the region and planned for last weekend, which were widely advertised across social media Mr Lewis said: “I’m pleased to say the people of Cleveland are endowed with an enormous amount of common sense.
“People did not attend. It’s great to see the backlash against those things. The people saying you should not go, drowned out the voice of those that thought it was acceptable.”
He added: “It makes our job easier and ensures we are also able to keep our staff safer by not having to attend mass gatherings. So everyone is playing their part locally to make sure this virus is not spreading at the rate it could do with large gatherings.”
Mr Coppinger said the public are delighted to see new neighbourhood officers now out on patrol – something he has campaigned for - and asked if these officers have any specific objectives.
The Chief said their roles will include speaking with the public on a daily basis to provide crime prevention advice, monitoring community tensions so additional resources can be deployed if necessary and making sure long standing problems that have beset some neighbourhoods are solved.
Nationally it has been reported a number of fixed penalty notices issued by police during Covid-19 have been withdrawn – the Chief said he had had no notification so far from the Crown Prosecution Service that this applies to any tickets issued by Cleveland.
The Chief Constable urged people to visit gov.uk to ensure they remain updated as to any changes in guidance. He said that he welcomed the ongoing debate about whether the force had got the balance right between engagement and enforcement, adding: “I’d encourage people to continue to engage and ask questions about how we interpret the guidance.”
Looking ahead to the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend, the Chief Constable said the force will use ANPR data to monitor build ups of traffic and will have officers on neighbourhood patrol and on the ground at local beauty spots to engage with people and ensure important messages regarding Covid-19 are understood.
Updating on force improvement, the Chief made clear this had not been put on hold during Covid and that the improvement team continues to work on a full-time basis because “improvement is required whether Covid-19 is a factor or not.”
He added: “I am delighted at some of the progress we have already made but there is a long road ahead of us.”
Mr Coppinger concluded the scrutiny session by reflecting on how the force had coped during the Covid-19 crisis.
He told the Chief Constable: “I have been very impressed at the way the officers and staff have risen to the challenge of Covid-19. It’s something which none of us have ever encountered before and the vast majority of people in this area are right behind you.”
The full video of the scrutiny session can be found at: https://youtu.be/wwXbLShlggQ
To hear the Chief Constable's response to specific topics, please click the links below:
Chief Constable gives an update on the latest guidance
Cleveland Police's key messages to the public and the Four Es approach
Chief Constable on the number of enforcement notices issued by the Force
How Cleveland Police are dealing with gatherings during lockdown
Mass gatherings and protests during lockdown - and advice from the Chief
How the police are monitoring visitors to coastal and rural areas
Chief responds to complaints about officers not wearing appropriate PPE
Whether the CPS are reviewing any Covid breach charges brought by Cleveland Police
How the police are working to protect people from scams
What role neighbourhood policing teams will be playing during Covid-19
How Cleveland Police are continuing to make progress on addressing HMIC concerns
How Cleveland Police have generally coped during Covid-19
Posted on Wednesday 20th May 2020