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29 May 2020
The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales and National Welsh Lead have praised officers for their extraordinary efforts during the pandemic as the Government continues to ease lockdown restrictions.
Over the past 24 hours rules have been relaxed in England and Wales which will allow people to meet up in groups of six with people from different households from Monday – either in a public place or in private providing it is outside and following the two-metre distancing rule.
Commenting on the announcement, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter, said: “The past few weeks have been a massive challenge for the police service as officers have had to face an unprecedented and unpredictable threat. But my colleagues have stepped up to meet the challenge head on and dealt with the difficulty of changing laws at a time when many people were concerned for their safety; and they do an incredible job.
“As the Government continues to ease lockdown restrictions, officers will yet again have to deal with a new set of laws and guidelines in a short period of time when they are introduced in the coming days. Policing will adapt to meet these changes and my colleagues will continue to engage with the public, advise and only use enforcement as a last resort.”
The Government is currently drawing up these new regulations and the Federation has expressed concerns over ambiguity and the difficulties which officers may encounter as a result.
Policing guidelines clearly setting out changes to the law are also being drafted for officers as the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Federation and the College of Policing work closely together.
“This is all happening in quick time, but the Federation has been given the opportunity to provide feedback on these new regulations to help ensure they are crystal clear for both officers and the public, Mr Apter added. “At the end of the day we cannot expect officers to police the unpoliceable so we have stressed there must be clarity for all on what is expected of them.
“I would urge members of the public to continue to stick to the advice to support the emergency services and the NHS who are 100% committed to fight this pandemic and keep people safe.”
Mark Bleasdale, PFEW Welsh lead, commenting after the Welsh Government today (May 29) announced an easing of lockdown rules also called on residents to do their bit by staying in their local areas and not ‘generally travelling more than five miles’ as set out by First Minister Mark Drakeford - who praised police for the ‘vital role’ they had played during the pandemic.
Mark Bleasdale welcomed the First Minister’s comments. He said: “Police officers have had a difficult role in recent months, they have put their own health and wellbeing on the line as they have worked on the front-line, helping protect the public and our health services.
“Even though we are only just seeing a slight easing of the lockdown restrictions, police officers have already been noticing a steady increase in traffic on the roads and the Bank Holiday weekend saw significant extra demands placed on them with people travelling from as far away as Manchester, Birkenhead and the West Midlands to visit beaches in North Wales.
“We are also aware of an increase in the number of calls to some control rooms from members of the public reporting breaches of the lockdown rules. We would just urge the public to help us all by abiding by the new guidance.”