HAMPSHIRE Police Officers are still determined to employ ‘engage first’ tactics with the public as the lockdown begins to unlock.
The much-publicised mixed messages and interpretations of guidance coming from Government has made life more ‘difficult’ for police officers on the frontline Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge has said.
“It is difficult,” said Alex. “As the lockdown is relaxed it makes it a harder job for officers to pick between the cases where there’s a genuine need and other cases where there maybe isn’t.
“Hampshire officers have always been really good using the Explain, Engage and Encourage approach – and even up to the point of Enforcement they’re still doing lots of Explain, Engage and Encourage.”
COVID-19 related demand is now beginning to drop, Alex added, but he says officers are still doing an excellent job in using the three Es tactic wherever relevant, a tactic which has so far been appreciated by the Hampshire public.
The NPCC has also said officers should now be focusing on those who break health protection regulations during the pandemic and that they cannot be expected to police social distancing requirements.
“The number of COVID-19 related incidents we’re going to now is less because the demand from other things has increased,” Alex said.
“There’s a balance to be had around the incidents we are going to social distancing, reports of parties etc but now a lot of officers are going to crimes.
“So, while it’s harder, officers are doing a really good job. They’re still focusing on the three Es. Where they are enforcing, I think they’re using more primary legislation rather than COVID-19 legislation because it’s easier.
“Officers are more comfortable with those bits of legislation, so they might go to a house party or something similar and rather than using COVID-19 law they’re using Public Order Act legislation or assault legislation.
“So, it is more complex, but officers are good at working in that grey area.
“They use common sense, and all the feedback we’ve had from the residents of Hampshire is that constables, sergeants, inspectors in Hampshire are doing this sensibly and pragmatically.
“The public feels the benefit of the three Es rather than a very stringent, enforcement-based approach.”