24 March 2020
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton has called on the public to ‘play their part’ during the ongoing coronavirus crisis and support the police and other emergency services by staying at home.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined strict new measures to tackle the spread of the virus, banning people from leaving their homes or meeting in groups of more than two people.
Tony said: “These are an unprecedented range of measures announced by the Prime Minister to lockdown the country to help save lives, to support our NHS and to protect key workers. It is really important to note that 1 infection prevented today prevents 36,000 cases in 6 weeks' time. Please do not mix with people from outside your own household until told it is safe to do so. We are in grave danger of the National Health Service being utterly overwhelmed and unable to help people in desperate need.
“I would urge everybody to recognise the severity of this situation and call on the public to play their part in helping us at this time of national crisis. A repeat of the scenes we saw at the weekend, with people completely ignoring the advice of the scientists and experts trying to get us through this crisis, will be disastrous for us all.
“I hope members of our communities listen to the advice and stay in their homes unless it is absolutely necessary for them to go out.
“As a force, protecting the public is our priority. We’ll continue to receive regular calls, and for us to be able to maintain services to our communities we need everybody on board and doing their bit.
“This is about saving lives and supporting our NHS, I ask that the public gives us their support in this time of crisis.”
In a televised statement to the country, the Prime Minister ordered people to leave their homes only under a list of ‘very limited purposes’.
Under the new lockdown, members of the public must not leave their house except to shop for essentials, as infrequently as possible; exercise outdoors once per day, alone or with household members; receive medical treatment or provide care; and travel to and from work if impossible to work from home.
All non-essential shops will close, as will playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and places of worship, except for funerals.
Police and local authorities will have powers to disperse gatherings, including through fines.
Meanwhile, John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has highlighted a lack of clarity in some of the messages coming from the Government and policing bodies on the role of officers in tackling the crisis.
He said: “While accepting this is a fast-changing, unprecedented situation, there is confusion over some messaging, not only from certain parts of the national and local government but from within policing itself.
“We want to do the right thing, but clarification is needed. We welcome the Home Secretary’s decision that enforcing the closing of pubs, cafés etc is a matter for local authorities and not the police.
“Clearly, if there is a need for police to attend then we will but, ultimately, this is a local authority matter and police should not be the first port of call.”
The national chair also revealed a ‘considerable’ number of officers are self-isolating, and strongly re-iterated calls to urgently test police for the virus.
He said: "This massively impacts our ability to police. If they were tested, we could identify officers who don't have the virus and can go back to policing quickly - it also gives them the reassurance they need.”
And John added that his priority was the provision of protective equipment for officers which he described as ‘patchwork around the country’.
“I absolutely understand that we are in a time of crisis,” he said, “But it would be wrong of me not to raise these concerns on behalf of front-line police officers who just want to do the job to the best of their ability.”