22 February 2021
The English and Welsh Governments must stop issuing mixed messages about COVID-19 regulations to avoid further confusion over new laws and rules when lockdown measures are finally lifted.
Today, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) warned the Prime Minister not to repeat the lack of clarity over last year’s pandemic measures before he formally announces his ‘route map’ out of lockdown this week.
This warning came as new research published by PFEW showed only 1 in 10 police officers in England and Wales thought the police powers previously introduced to manage the COVID-19 crisis were clear.
The Demand, Capacity and Welfare 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.
PFEW’s National Chair John Apter urged both Governments to introduce clear lockdown lifting guidelines.
He commented: “Given the fact that 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 have 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.
26 per cent of respondents believed they have already had COVID-19, and 45 per cent of these felt they had contracted the virus through work related activities.
Mr Apter 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.”