90 days from today is Sun, 23 August 2020

Avon & Somerset Police Federation

COVID-19 Update from the Chair

13 May 2020

Today we enter the next step in the Covid-19 crisis, which will keep the country in a Lockdown, but will bring certain changes with some restrictions. This has not been an easy or smooth period for policing nationally, with us having to adapt and change a policing style to quickly implemented legislation. Often without training or a clear understanding of the requirements, we have responded with a police style that has on the whole been praised. This has not only changed how we police, but also how you live. This is very different times for all of us, with many of us not being able to have those family or friend interactions or activities that we have been previously used to. The changes from the Government are measured and are responsive to the identified needs, whilst identifying a pathway forward with how we as a society have to operate.

The new Guidelines that have now been published are leading us with the overall plan. There is a clear message throughout, that this is and will be a new way for all of us to interact within our homes, our communities and work. This is not a short term measure, rather a cultural change, which will see us operating with social distancing and other “restrictions” for years to come. We are starting on a long road of required social changes which may bring different stresses or pressures. What is key, is the necessity for the public to take personal responsibilities and embrace this need to change.

Fundamentally this is around how we all interact, socialise and communicate. We are all part of this, so we will need to “engage and encourage”. You cannot police a cultural change. This is a public health concern and should not be a policing priority.

Your local Federation have been speaking with senior leaders in the force and on national platforms, re-iterating that we still need to “police with consent”. To be a British Police Service we should internally operate with trust and confidence but also have that trust and confidence from our communities. It is because of this and the ability for policing to adapt and change, that we feel that “policing” certain COVID incidents is not a police concern. Society will find its way with the new changes and the required new culture. We have the legislation to deal with certain breaches, those being significant such as the house parties or mass gatherings. We have to police with Public Health being the primary concern.

The changes will continue throughout 2020 and beyond. Collectively we have to monitor these changes and ensure we are policing with the latest guidance. We will challenge the force to ensure that this is done and that you are policing with the most up to date and accurate information and guidance.

We are keen in not making COVID-19 a Policing issue. This is primarily a Public Health concern and we should only assist when required. Policing for the future will be shaped on how and what we do during 2020. What you have achieved thus far with the policing of Avon and Somerset is impressive – well done. Keep that approach and work with all of us to achieve the desired safe and healthy outcome.