‘Don’t blame us for mixed messages’: Police say that ministers’ lack of clarity on lockdown rules has led to officers ‘being seen as the baddies’
- Police Federation Chairman said the force was ‘bearing the brunt’ of complaints
- He said the PM’s message that the UK reached the peak sent the wrong message
- Other police chiefs have urged people not to get together for a beach BBQ yet
With sunny weather over the bank holiday weekend, many Britons have been flocking to beaches and parks before the lockdown restrictions are eased.
But this has caused a headache for police – who say mixed messages from ministers mean they are ‘being seen as the baddies’.
A police leader warned yesterday that officers are ‘bearing the brunt’ of the public’s frustration due to the lack of clarity from the Government about the lockdown.
Pictured: police officer talking to Londoners sitting on the grass on Primrose Hill during the lockdown. John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales warned yesterday that officers are ‘bearing the brunt’ of the public’s frustration
Pictured: a police officer talks to people sunbathing on Primrose Hill. Mr Apter said Boris Johnson was sending the wrong message when he said the UK had reached the peak
Boris Johnson’s five stage plan to reopen Britain
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal his lockdown exit plan on Sunday after most people in Britain have spent more than six weeks at home to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposals are to be split into five stages over the coming months, and a leaked version of the plan has suggested the first changes on Monday will see garden centres allowed to open and unlimited exercise allowed.
There will also be a return to sunbathing and picnics, more key workers’ children will go back to school, staff will start returning to businesses that stayed open during the lockdown and open-air markets may reopen.
The second stage at the end of May will then see primary schools gradually return with smaller classes and some outdoor sports such as golf and tennis potentially resuming – possibly along with open-air swimming.
Premier League football could return behind closed doors towards the end of June, secondary schools will reopen before the summer holidays and outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are expected to be allowed.
Cafes could also reopen, before pubs and restaurants follow towards the end of August – although it may take until October for all remaining areas of the economy including gyms to remove their shutters.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, spoke out as police chiefs pleaded with the public not to head to the beach or holiday homes after members of the public reported tourists arriving at seaside cottages.
He said Boris Johnson’s announcement that Britain was past the peak of the pandemic had given some a green light to flout the restrictions. Mr Apter, whose organisation represents rank and file officers, also suggested that a 16 per cent increase in assaults on emergency workers, who are being coughed and spat at on the streets, was partly due to confusion and frustration over the rules.
‘The moment the Prime Minister said we had reached the peak, that sent the wrong message for some that we were in the clear and clearly we are not,’ he said. ‘The longer this goes on, it is becoming more difficult to police.
‘On the streets my colleagues are doing their best, but there are groups of people having picnics in the park and we are being seen as the baddies because we are asking them to move on and they are saying, “Everything is fine, we are past the peak.”’
Mr Apter continued: ‘When the Prime Minister said he would be making an announcement on Sunday about the lockdown, lots of assumptions were made and it has created this void of information. It creates confusion and frustration when people are stopped by police and its officers who are bearing the brunt of that anger.’
Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew urged people not to visit friends or get together for a beach barbecue.
Pictured: police officers talk to two men sunbathing in St James’s park on April 11.Devon and Cornwall Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew urged people not to visit friends or get together for a beach barbecue
Frustrated residents in Cornwall have used Twitter to report tourists arriving at holiday cottages to the police. Paul Armstrong wrote: ‘First covidiots of the bank holiday weekend have arrived. All three holiday cottages down at Great Wood, Mylor, suddenly full. Range Rover with a massive Norfolk sticker parked outside. Anything you can do Devon and Cornwall Police?’
On Thursday night three kayakers who drove more than 100 miles from Berkshire to Swanage in Dorset were cut off by the tide and had to be rescued in an operation involving lifeboats, a helicopter, the police and ambulance officers.