HAMPSHIRE Police officers cannot be expected to police new guidance around wearing face coverings in shops, their Federation has said.
The new legislation means that everyone shopping or picking up takeaway food has to wear a face mask to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
With some “anti maskers” declaring they won’t wear face coverings, it’s led to fears that there could be trouble over the trolleys if people don’t comply.
Hampshire Police Federation says resources are just too stretched already for officers to police the new rules.
Chair Zoe Wakefield said: “It should not fall to policing to police the wearing of face-coverings in shops.
“We’ve had over ten years of cuts to our numbers, so we just don’t have enough officers to deal with this on top of everything else.
“Shops have the right to refuse entry and refuse service to anyone if they don’t want those not wearing face-coverings in their shops, and they need to do some self-policing because we just can’t do it,” she added.
“Obviously if we get calls to assistance from shops, then we will try to attend those, but we can’t just police face-coverings.
The public have to play their part in the battle against the virus, Zoe said.
“These are unprecedented times, and coronavirus is a problem for everyone.
“Everybody has to play their part in complying with the new rules, and it can’t all just be down to the police to enforce it.
“A lot of these shopping centres have their own security companies. Some shops have their own security staff. There are a lot of other people and other organisations that could have a big part in this. It can’t always just fall to the police to do it.”