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New Social Gathering Rules Will Put Pressure On Police

9 September 2020

The new Government rules for social gatherings “will put increased pressure onto policing, which is already at capacity,” according to Surrey Police Federation.

The Government has said that from 14 September the number of people allowed to meet socially in England will be reduced from 30 to six, with reasonable exceptions, and that the police will be able to disperse or fine those who break the rules. The fine will start at £100, doubling on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

During an interview on BBC Breakfast, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “One of the pieces of feedback we had, including from the police, was that we needed the rules to be super simple, so that everybody knows what they are.” He added: “This will now be rigorously enforced by the police.”

Melanie Warnes, Chair of Surrey Police Federation, said: “The Government announcement was made without providing forces with the full relevant information regarding the changes. It will obviously put increased pressure onto policing, which is already at capacity for its demand.

“Constant changes cause confusion for both the police and the public. When the police try to engage with the public regarding wrongdoing, the public may react in a negative way. 

“As always, the public need to take some responsibility for themselves and to keep themselves and those around them safe.”

She added: “It is imperative that my members do everything they can to remain safe in the workplace and use the appropriate PPE when dealing with the public.”

John Apter, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “With the increase in confirmed COVID cases, it’s no surprise the Government has made this announcement.

“For policing, these constant changes to legislation are becoming the norm. The pressures on policing have increased significantly over recent months, and this latest change will add to this pressure.”

But John added that the Government must ensure that the public are made aware of the new rules. He said: “The Government needs to play its part. With so many changes in legislation, an effective public information campaign must be a priority – as there’s been so much confusion for the public and many people don’t know exactly what the law says.”