Fringe Box



Opinion: This Lethal Virus is No Respecter of Softly, Softly Policing

Published on: 6 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 8 Jan, 2021

By Martin Giles

Some of us will die because a few refuse to comply with pandemic regulations, the statistics clearly show.

Soaring Covid infections transmute into more hospital admissions and deaths.

The swiftly-spreading new variant of Covid-19, discovered in Kent, is far more infectious. Surrey’s chief constable says one in five of those tested in this county is infected and a significant number of officers (the CC declined to be specific) is unavailable for duty.

So isn’t it time Surrey Police imposed tougher enforcement of the pandemic restrictions to save lives?

So far, they have seemed reluctant to resort to the fourth E in their Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce strategy.

In Surrey, population 1.2 million, only ten fixed penalty notices to those ignoring the rules have been issued, since December 20, for socialising in “gatherings”.

But there have been far more instances of rule-breaking by those who seem oblivious to all the media reports, government warnings and the blunt “Stay at Home” direction?

Even if they don’t care about their own health, don’t they care at all about their families and friends? What has happened to their consciences, common sense and self-respect?

We have a proud tradition of policing by consent in this country but surely the police do have the consent of most of us to act effectively, take a firmer grip, and enforce the rules decisively.

Two measures they could take would swiftly send a deterrent message:

1. Spot-checks on supermarkets (at which many of us have the greatest risk of infection) to ensure shoppers are wearing masks; and

2. Vehicle-stops on road-users to ensure those travelling are really on essential journeys, permitted under the rules.

We know police cannot be everywhere, and reliance on most of us to comply with regulations will continue, but tougher measures should help persuade those few, still uncaring about the health of anyone else, to buck up their ideas for all our sakes.

This is a life or death issue.

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Responses to Opinion: This Lethal Virus is No Respecter of Softly, Softly Policing

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 6, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve been commenting on this for over a month and complained to SCC/GBC about the information they are not providing.

    Whilst it may take enforcement in the most egregious breaches such as the New Year’s Eve house party reported by the Surrey Police, why not, as a first step, some real feedback.

    SCC just publish the daily case rates and a request to follow the restrictions. But with the graphs rising rapidly, where is a bit more information on reasons why. There are business and liaison groups offering advice and claims of patrols by safety/COVID marshals/officer and police on patrol.

    As a resident, I’ve seen none of this to inform me where residents can improve compliance.

    As a first step, why can’t the daily reports of the Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce strategy in the towns around Surrey and at places of reported groups, like open spaces and Slyfield CRC for example?

    Rather than unsupported ‘nanny’ encouragement statements that “compliance is high”, let’s have some real evidence before fines and house calls.

  2. Paul Jarvis Reply

    January 7, 2021 at 7:47 am

    The police can only enforce the law. In many areas, the government’s official guidance is not backed up by the English law and therefore the police are very limited on what they can do.

    For example, travel for exercise is allowed. The guidance says you should stay local but there is nothing in the legislation that puts a geographical limit on travel for exercise, even in the Tiered system there was nothing enforceable to stop travel between Tiers.

    This isn’t to say people shouldn’t follow it, but more to show that the police could not enforce it even if they wanted to.

    It’s important to differentiate between ‘guidance breakers’ and ‘law breakers’.

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