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Hertfordshire Police Federation

‘We need clarity as lockdown eases’

22 February 2021

The chair of Hertfordshire Police Federation has called for clarity over new lockdown measures as it was revealed only 10 per cent of officers felt previous regulations were clear.

Geoff Bardell said he was not surprised by the figures from the Police Federation for England and Wales’s (PFEW) demand, capacity and welfare survey which show only one in 10 officers thought police powers previously introduced to manage the coronavirus crisis were clear.

The survey also found only 24 per cent of respondents felt the ‘Four E’s’ (engage, explain, encourage and enforce) approach was effective when enforcing the new police powers.

And with Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (Monday) expected to announce a “roadmap” for easing Covid-19 measures in England, Geoff says the Government must stop issuing mixed messages about Covid-19 rules to avoid further confusion.

Geoff said: “There have been so many changes to the regulations and a lot of mixed messaging that it’s not surprising officers and the public are finding it difficult to feel on top of things. And that’s made our job more difficult.

“The vast majority of people have supported us as we’ve policed the pandemic, but there’s always a minority who think the regulations don’t apply to them or twist them to suit themselves.

“We need any new rules to be clear for the public to know what they’re allowed to do within the law and for my colleagues to be able to enforce them fairly. It’s vital we have that clear messaging because we to maintain public confidence if we’re to continue to police the pandemic effectively.”

His comments were echoed by John Apter, chair of PFEW.

John said: “Given the fact there have been more than 60 rule changes introduced during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise whatsoever that only 10 per cent of police officers who responded to our survey said they found the Covid-19 rule changes to be clear.

“We have been saying from the beginning, clear guidance on what people can and can’t do is needed; otherwise people will inadvertently fall foul of the law or may take advantage of the mixed messages. And it’s my colleagues who are on the frontline of these changes, continually playing catch-up to get their heads around the latest information.”

The new report also contains a number of personal testimonies from frontline officers, including those who have contracted Covid-19 while on duty, and those who’ve faced the virus being weaponised against them.

Almost a third of respondents (32 per cent) reported that a member of the public, believed to be carrying Covid-19, had purposely threatened to breathe or cough on them at least once over the past six months; with nearly a quarter reporting actual attempts at doing so.

A total of 26 per cent of respondents believed they had already had Covid-19, and 45 per cent of these felt they had contracted the virus through work-related activities.

John added: “I suggest the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Governments of England and Wales read this report very carefully. Then they can attempt to explain to my colleagues on the frontline why, after the most vulnerable have been vaccinated, they should not be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccination.”



September 2023