THERE are no extra officers to police the Government’s new COVID-19 regulations as the majority are already working to capacity, Hampshire Police Federation has said.
Hampshire Police Federation Chair of Zoë Wakefield said officers simply do not have time to respond to every call from the public reporting a breach of the so-called ‘rule of six’.
She said: “Each time the legislation comes in, it falls on us to enforce it: the wearing of facemasks, the unlawful gatherings, now the new rule of six. There aren’t any extra police to allocate to these.
“We have a COVID car that’s being allocated to respond to these types of incidents, but then the officers are being taken away from their normal duties. The pile of work that they’ve got to do isn’t being done by anybody else.
“The majority of officers are already working at capacity. Fortunately, in Hampshire the vast majority of the public are complying.”
Zoë said that Hampshire officers had recently issued their first enforcement notice in many months – to a householder of a property where a large party was taking place.
She said officers are still engaging with and explaining to the public first, but that this incident warranted a fine. She added: “Everything’s assessed on a threat, harm and risk basis.”
But she emphasised that officers do not have the capacity to respond to every call from the public to report a gathering of seven people in a neighbouring garden, for example.
She explained: “We just don’t have the people to go and police that, and it would be nice if some other agencies stepped up and helped us out a bit.”
Zoë said police officers needed more help to enforce COVID rules from other local stakeholders.
She said: “You’ve got council enforcement officers who go and do the carparks and stuff like that.
“And I know there’s been issues with some shops, with people not wearing face masks. Bigger shops probably need to start employing security guards if they’re having problems, because we can’t be deploying to all of them.”