Derbyshire Police Federation

New guidance for COVID-19 response

7 April 2020

New guidance to help officers deal with the extra powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020 and The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 have been welcomed by Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.

The College of Policing and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have published a set of measures for police in England which explain what they can do to support healthcare professionals during the pandemic.

Tony says the new guidance is important during an unprecedented time of nationwide lockdown in which many officers are trying to do the right thing by both the public and the new legislation.

“Because of the speed with which the travel and movement restrictions were introduced, it has led to different interpretations from force to force,” says Tony.

“Officers and forces have been policing the lockdown in parks, beaches and public places and, of course, there have been discrepancies and teething issues in certain areas.

“The new guidelines from the NPCC on how police can help healthcare professionals now give some much-needed clarity and will enable more consistency across the UK from force to force.

“While that is welcome, I cannot emphasise enough that support for our members carrying out their duties must also include the right levels of PPE. If officers are being asked to use ‘reasonable force where necessary’ to police a lockdown, they simply must be able to do so without undue risk to their own personal health and wellbeing.”

The details of the new guidelines are as follows:

  • Use of powers under this legislation will be public health led. The powers are to support public health officers in the testing and treatment of individuals where needed, to avoid further transmission of the COVID-19 virus
  • Partnership arrangements with Public Health England and collaborative decision-making are key to enforcing these provisions
  • A public health officer can direct or remove a person to a place suitable for screening and assessment. They can ask a constable to support this process if necessary. This should occur only in the most exceptional circumstances
  • A constable must seek the advice of a public health official in judging whether they have reasonable grounds to suspect a person is potentially infectious unless this is impracticable. If an officer has reasonable grounds, they can remove a person to a place suitable for screening and assessment or keep the person at that place until a public health officer can assess them. Details of what constitutes reasonable grounds can be found in the full Coronavirus Act brief
  • Police are able to use reasonable force to enforce these powers where necessary, however, in line with the Health Protection regulations guidance published last week to assist officers with policing the lockdown
  • The “Four Es” approach should be taken - Engage, Explain, Encourage the public and only Enforce as a last resort.

 

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