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11 September 2020
Enforcing the new “rule of six” will be difficult, complicated and require a significant amount of resources, Norfolk Police Federation has warned.
Andy Symonds, Police Federation Chair, was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from Monday the police will enforce new coronavirus restrictions that prevent more than six people from gathering socially.
Andy said: “It’s not straightforward. It’s very difficult and it could require a significant amount of resources if we get to the point where we have lots of people not adhering to it.
“Thankfully as we’ve seen previously when we had lockdown before, the majority of public in Norfolk and across the country did adhere to it, but we did have a significant minority that were continuing to flout the law and put us all at risk. This is a public health emergency so it is important that we do have these powers to enforce the people that flout the law.”
Arrest will be a last resort for repeat offenders, Andy told BBC Radio Norfolk, as the force cannot fill custody blocks with people who do not adhere to the legislation.
He said: “We’ll continue to explain, encourage and enforce - and enforce is the last resort. There are £100 fines but we know that the fines, for the minority of people that flout it, aren’t bothered about.”
Resources should be reserved for large gatherings, Andy said, such as the recent rave in Thetford which was attended by around 500 revellers last month.
He added: “Our resources should be aimed at dealing with the people that are in large gatherings, as well as trying to deal with the expected calls into our control room from neighbours reporting people that are living next to them that might have 7 or 8 people in that aren’t in the household.
“We’ve got to be able to prioritise them because we have to deal with the plethora of jobs that we deal with; domestic violence, robberies, assaults, missing persons, which will all continue as well as this new legislation.”
The Prime Minister said he would make it easier for police officers to enforce the rule of six, but Andy said he was unsure how this would happen.
Andy added: “We’ve got finite resources. We still can’t respond to every single call reporting a breach of these conditions. So, if they gave lots of extra officers then we could probably enforce this, but at the end of the day we haven’t. We’ve been through many years of cuts and we’re only now starting on the slow climb back up to recruiting the extra 20,000 which will take many years. So I’m not so sure that’s going to be the reality.”