AS England heads back into a three-tier system next week, the Chair of Hampshire Police Federation has urged the Government to simplify the COVID guidelines and “make it much easier for the public to understand, which then makes it easier for us to police it”.
The lockdown in England ends on 2 December, after which the three tiers will be reintroduced, but there will be a relaxation of the rules around Christmas.
And Zoë Wakefield (pictured) has said the changing rules are “really challenging” for policing.
She said: “It’s really difficult to keep up with the constant changes. I think the most simple one for officers to get their heads around was the rule of six, but that was only in place for a matter of weeks and then we moved to the tier system and then we moved back to lockdown.
“Fortunately in Hampshire we’ve had one set of rules to comply with. I know colleagues in other parts of the country that have had various rules – they police in one area and they respond to an incident in a different area that’s under different rules, and it’s an almost impossible task to try and keep track.”
Her message to the Government was: “Just simplify the whole process. Make it much easier for the public to understand, which then makes it easier for us to police it.
“There’s a lot of confusion out there from the public, who don’t understand what they can and can’t do. That obviously makes it difficult for us when we’re policing – not only for us to keep on top of the legislation, but also when people are breaking the rules unintentionally.
“Yes, there’s the minority who are having parties, but they will fall under the enforcement category. But also there are decent members of the public who don’t want to break the rules and who are trying to work it out. So there is just so much confusion. Make the legislation clearer.”
Ché Donald, Vice Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said officers need clear and consistent guidance if they are to be expected to enforce the rules.
He explained: “Once again, the Government has introduced changes to the lockdown restrictions and it will be my colleagues who will have to enforce these new rules. A limited break in restrictions may also introduce scenarios where travelling across the UK to visit family could be a breach of regulations one day and not the next.
“My colleagues will step up to this challenge – as they have many times since the lockdown began in March.
“But our message to the Government is police officers need clearer and more consistent rules which can be enforced fairly, and the public need clearer instructions so that they know what they are allowed to do within the law.”