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Lockdown Support Continues as Surrey Police Recruitment Drive Goes On

Published on: 30 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 3 May, 2020

Surrey Police have issued 346 of the 8,877 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) recorded by forces in England up to April 27 for breaches of government public health regulations during the lockdown. But the numbers have been decreasing week by week, from 102 in the second week of April to 60 for the week ending April 26 and police have noted a high level of compliance.

Last weekend 13 FPNs were issued in Surrey including those to:

  • A person who had travelled from North Kent to Caterham to take photographs of their cars, with four friends not observing social distancing.
  • Four people from different households out in a vehicle at night in the Epsom area having driven there from Beckenham, Kent, with conflicting accounts about why they were there.
  • An individual initially stopped for speeding in the Dorking area having travelled from West London, stated they were delivering food to their mother before admitting their mother was deceased and they were, in fact, preparing a second home for their family.

Government public health regulations introduced on March 27 to prevent the spread of coronavirus enable officers to issue individuals with £60 fines if they failed to comply after officers have engaged with them, explained the risks to public health and encouraged voluntary compliance.

Gavin Stephens

Chief Constable Gavin Stephens told reporters at today’s online press call that he’d also like to thank the 787 people who have volunteered to assist Surrey and Sussex police.

They include retired or former officers and staff as well as members of the public, who could be called upon should we experience high demand or require specific skills. Surrey Police has 42 volunteers in posts within our local resilience forums, contact centres, coroner’s offices, safety camera partnership and as special constables.

They expect the number of volunteers being called on to increase as the pandemic continues over a longer period to provide extra resilience to our front-line and non-operational support.

CC Stephens said: “Our policing approach during the lockdown has not changed. We are still patrolling, we are still engaging with the public and we are still taking enforcement action when it is absolutely necessary to do so. We are still doing all of this to protect the public and the NHS, and to save lives.

“We understand the frustrations of the public and we appreciate this is a very difficult time for everyone, but now is not the time to stop following the guidance. For the lockdown to be effective, everyone must pull together and do their bit by following the guidance and staying at home.

“We are seeing an increasing number of people travelling into Surrey from areas outside the county, for reasons that are not essential. This is not acceptable, and we continue to ask people to stay within a reasonable distance of their home if they are travelling for an essential purpose.

“Our message remains clear – stay home, protect the NHS, save lives. Please do your bit to help our communities and our country get past this pandemic.”

But it was confirmed that there has been no change to the policy under which cars may be stopped by officers. Although number plate checks can show cars are distant from its registered keeper’s address, and therefore more likely to be breaching the Coranavirus regulations, the police are still only stopping vehicles where there is a suspicion of criminal behaviour or a motoring offence.

Stopping cars simply because they are not from a local area has been considered likely to be unpopular and too much of an invasion of privacy.

In a subsequent press release, a police spokesperson reminded the public that under government regulations, homes should only be left for very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example, food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible;
  • One form of exercise a day, for example, a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • Travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

Recruitment continues

Surrey Police have welcomed the College of Policing’s innovative steps to ensure recruitment continues despite the coronavirus outbreak, with 78 recruits expected in the county by March 2021.

The College issued guidance on essential biometric vetting for new recruits and allowed forces to request an online assessment centre to replace face-to-face contact with candidates.

Adrian Rutherford, director of People Services at Surrey Police, said: “We are in a strong position to achieve the government-funded officer allocation. We have now received both precept and uplift funding and have undertaken large-scale recruitment drives over the past six months.

“In February 2020, more than 270 people applied to be an officer, one of the largest application rates in the past 18 months. This puts us in good stead for recruiting the 78 uplift officers by March 2021 and we’re confident we will achieve this ahead of the deadline.

“Our recruitment for police officers, police community support officers, contact officers and detectives will continue and we have worked with the College of Policing to identify alternative processes to ensure those who are successful can start their training as early as possible.

“This includes removing the need for face-to-face medicals and vetting and adapted training methods including online learning and where this is not possible, for example personal safety training, socially distanced approaches undertaken. We also have 192 individuals waiting to for their assessment centre, meaning they will be among the first individuals in the country to go through the new virtual assessment centre, due to launch in May ”

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