Open letter from Chief Constables of the five North West police forces ahead of implementation of latest COVID restrictions
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As the Police Chiefs responsible for the North West we have seen first-hand the misery the pandemic has caused, but we have also seen great support from the majority of our communities.
We have tried to ensure we have maintained the principle of policing with consent, that sets apart policing in this country from other parts of the world. Along with police forces nationally, we have taken a very measured approach to enforcement from the start of the pandemic, recognising the restrictions placed on all our lives were unprecedented.
We used the 4E’s model of Engage, Explain, Encourage and only as a last resort Enforce, in relation to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for breaching the Coronavirus legislation.
Sadly we have seen a minority right across the North West who seem incapable of demonstrating any civic responsibility and complying with the regulations.
We know from focus groups and regional insight work the majority of the public would wish to see the Police Service taking a consistent and robust approach to enforcement.
Since local restrictions have been necessary across large parts of the North West we have taken a firmer stance on enforcing the restrictions, moving more quickly to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices for those deliberately flouting the law and putting lives at risk.
As we head into further significant restrictions from 00.01 on Thursday 5 November 2020 we wanted to give these collective messages:
To the majority of our communities who have tried so hard to comply with restrictions, please carry on. We know how hard this is, but we need to maintain that shared purpose we had in the first lockdown to defeat the virus and, ultimately, save lives.
To the minority who feel the restrictions don’t apply to them be prepared to face the consequences of greater levels of enforcement. We will collectively target those who flout the restrictions, particularly those organising large gatherings and music events, repeatedly holding parties or deliberately causing harm to our communities by not following the restrictions, such as self-isolating where necessary.
Where we have issued Fixed Penalty notices a significant proportion of recipients think they can ignore them. We are therefore seeking support from Government and the Judiciary to consider how we bring these people to justice rapidly.
Let us all do everything we can to get through this most awful of times and prevent any further suffering across the North West.
Darren Martland ,Chief Constable Cheshire Constabulary; Michelle Skeer, Chief Constable, Cumbria Constabulary; Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police; Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable Lancashire Constabulary; Andy Cooke Chief Constable Merseyside Police