Enforce the lockdown?

The police are facing a challenge to keep Brits inside

Evening Standard

Enforcing UK lockdown will be 'real challenge', police bosses say

Two of Britain's leading police officers have said enforcing the Government's restrictions on movement will be "a real challenge" and even impossible with the number of officers available.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Brits on Monday evening that they have to stay at home, apart from for medical reasons, critical work, shopping and exercise once a week.

Any gatherings of more than two people will be broken up by police, Mr Johnson said.

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What challenges will the police face with the coronavirus lockdown?

By Joe Harker

The police have been told to "persuade, cajole, negotiate and advise" members of the public to follow the rules of the government imposed lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that people must only travel if it was absolutely necessary, should work from home if they are able to and should only be going to work if they were key to the UK's effort to cope with the coronavirus.

People are allowed out once a day for exercise and they are also allowed to go to the supermarket to purchase food and essential items, though they are advised to shop as infrequently as possible.

Can the police enforce the lockdown across the UK?

The Claim:

Britain's leading police officers have warned that it will be a "real challenge" to enforce the lockdown as they were understaffed before keeping the public indoors became part of their job description.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the government hadn't fully outlined what powers the police would have to enforce the new restrictions.

He also warned that the police wouldn't be able to do their new job without the support of the public, it will require trust and responsibility from both sides to make it work.

Right now they are being asked to disperse crowds rather than challenge members of the public over whether their journeys are essential, with the government rules stating that travel should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.

Quite how the police are meant to check whether a person is outside because they're using the one outdoor trip for exercise that they are allowed each day is anyone's guess.

Unless police recognise the same jogger at multiple times in the day it's hard to enforce that part of the lockdown, while confusion among officers over the powers they have means they might not even know what to do with someone if they caught them.

The police are not powerless to stop people from flouting the rules of the lockdown and officers expect they will be able to rise to the challenge but they really need public cooperation.

If you want to help police officers keep order during the lockdown then respect the rules, don't be another person for them to be worried about.

The Counter Claim:

However, the government has sent army personnel to help the police in their efforts to enforce the lockdown to boost manpower on Britain's streets.

Another benefit to the lockdown might be a clearer message coming from the government.

The prime minister has been accused of confusing the public with contradictory statements and weak requests, now he's actually told people what the rules are and instructed the country to follow them it might make people realise what they have to do.

Over the weekend thousands of people were seen out and about, ignoring social distancing rules and flouting the advice from the government to stay home unless necessary.

The government tried asking people to comply and muddled the message, now they're telling people what things are going to be like and expecting them to get the message loud and clear.

Police officers know they'll need the trust of the public to enforce the lockdown, now hopefully the public will know what is expected of them.

The Facts:

People found to be in violation of the lockdown could be issued with a £30 fine if they don't follow police instructions to return home, though emergency laws will allow officers to issue unlimited fines.

The lockdown is going to last for three weeks at least and will be extended if the government decides it's not the right time to lift restrictions.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, food shops, newsagents, post offices, laundrettes, hardware stores, corner shops, banks, pet shops, bike shops, car rentals, petrol stations and parks will all be staying open as they are considered to be supplying the public with essential items during the pandemic.

You are allowed to visit these shops during the lockdown if you need to buy essentials, though other retail outlets should be closed during this time because they are not key to getting the UK through the crisis.

You should not be going to visit friends and family, though children under 18 whose parents are separated can visit both homes.

Please be responsible and follow the rules, make it easier for everyone going through a very difficult time.

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