Police 'retreating' from enforcing lockdown and will now 'only break up large gatherings'

According to one police and crime commissioner, the government has accepted that police have “retreated” to engaging, explaining and encouraging rather than enforcing the lockdown. (PA)

Police will now only break up large gatherings as they reportedly “retreat” from lockdown enforcement, it has been reported.

According to The Times, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have told ministers that most lockdown issues are now a “personal and moral responsibility” rather than a policing issue.

It is understood that Kathryn Holloway, Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner and APCC spokeswoman for civil contingencies, wrote to fellow commissioners on Tuesday, saying that ministers have now accepted that police will not longer enforce the lockdown, though officers would still try to prevent mass gatherings.

A spokesperson for the APCC confirmed the position that sticking to lockdown is a personal responsibility.

They said: “The national policing leadership and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ national Civil Contingencies lead, Kathryn Holloway, have all underlined publicly that it is a matter of personal and moral responsibility to act to protect ourselves and others and, first and foremost, a Public Health issue not, primarily, a police issue for enforcement. There is nothing new in this.”

A spokesman for the NPCC told Yahoo News UK that it had said all along that as lockdown restrictions ease, there would inevitably be fewer circumstances that required enforcement.

“We remain committed to engaging, explaining and encouraging before using enforcement as a last option,” the spokesman said.

Police have been faced with the task of trying to enforce lockdown rules since they were put in place by the government, with the power to issue fines to those who flout them.

At the start of May, figures from the NPCC showed that more than 9,000 fines had been issued across England and Wales for people breaking lockdown restrictions.

Earlier this month, chief constables warned that reduced lockdown restrictions would be “impossible to police” and would damage officers’ relationship with the public.

One chief told The Times: “If people are allowed to meet up with a circle of up to 10 people, we shouldn’t be asked to police that. How ridiculous is that? It would be impossible to police.”

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