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Staffordshire’s Chief Constable says he expects officers to be less involved in “policing this public health crisis” in Lichfield and Burntwood after coronavirus restrictions began to be eased.
The Government’s new measures – which allow people to exercise more than once per day – have come into effect today (13th May).
Some businesses are also beginning to return to work after Boris Johnson outlined the first phase of bringing the UK out of lockdown.
Chief Constable Gareth Morgan said that police in Lichfield and Burntwood would continue to advise people – but added that he anticipated less involvement in enforcing restrictions.
“I expect some people are going to be uncertain and confused and will need to be helped to work their way through the coming days and many will be looking for clarity.
“Officers and staff will continue to use the approach that has served us and the public so well to date.
“As the restrictions on people are significantly lessened, I expect us to be less involved in ‘policing’ this public health crisis, but when we do I expect us to continue to engage and explain the new guidance with patience and courtesy and only use enforcement if necessary.
“This approach has worked well with the vast majority of the public and it is a tribute to the professionalism of officers and staff that Staffordshire Police has retained the confidence of the public to date.
“This is a significant achievement in the context of what we have been asked to do.”Chief Constable Gareth Morgan, Staffordshire Police
“Personal responsibility is now key”
Ch Cons Morgan said that while the threat of COVID-19 had not disappeared, the responsibility for managing the risks was now a role for individuals.
“I am confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow the revised guidance which has been published today.
“The threat of infection has not gone away. These changes are incremental and the overriding public health message remains that people should stay home as much as possible to help keep the infection rate down.
“As many of us are now able to spend more time outdoors, each of us need to take personal responsibility for doing that within the restrictions set out by the Government.
“Our role as police officers is primarily to engage and explain. The expansion of the reasons to be away from home rightly focuses on what people can do rather than previously a longer list of what they can’t do.
“In reality they describe a return to what most of us would describe as a slow return to work and family life which thankfully we don’t normally police.
“It is vitally important that we remember that, as police officers, we enforce the law not guidance – social distancing is guidance and it is not enforceable in these regulations.
“Personal responsibility is now key – for those who are able to leave their homes as a result of the changes, think carefully about where you are going and how you will be able to keep your distance from others.”Chief Constable Gareth Morgan, Staffordshire Police