Policing ‘rule of six’ puts extra pressure on officers, union warns

Darren Harris said crime in Suffolk is back to pre-lockdown levels Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE FEDERATIO

Darren Harris said crime in Suffolk is back to pre-lockdown levels Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE FEDERATION - Credit: SUFFOLK POLICE FEDERATION

Crime in Suffolk has returned to pre-lockdown levels and any additional legislation will bring extra pressure for police, the organisation representing rank-and-file officers in the county has warned.

Darren Harris, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, was speaking as new Covid-19 restrictions and tougher fines for failing to self-isolate came into force today.

Anyone testing positive for Covid-19, or has been told they have been in contact with someone who has, now has a legal duty to self-isolate – with fines starting at £1,000 and rising up to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches.

The government said that officers can check whether people are complying with the rules in the highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups based on “local intelligence”.

Mr Harris said: “I have spent some time speaking to officers on the street to find out what is going on out there at the moment and it is very much a case of the demand is where we were before.

“So it is busy, and I think any extra legislation which is landed on officers at the moment will cause pressures. I think there is a struggle that officers can’t be everywhere at once so I think it is very much a case of it’s going to have to be risk-assessed as to whether we attend or not.”

MORE: How will the ‘rule of six’ be enforced in Suffolk?Laws prohibiting social gatherings of more than six people also came into force on September 14 to battle the increase of daily positive coronavirus cases.

Mr Harris praised Suffolk’s communities for adhering to new legislation but urged members of the public to report “blatant breaches”.

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“In Suffolk members of the community here are being rather sensible about it and listening to the message we have been putting out and we’re not seeing scenes that we’re seeing in other cities over the weekend of that type of behaviour that does require us to act and enforce,” he added.

“Be it in London with the protests or in Liverpool with the drinkers on the street at 10’o’clock at night, I think in that situation, we are going to have to look at enforcement but I think the message and the way we’ve policed it so far is right.

“It drills down into those ‘Peelian’ principles of policing, the public are the police and the police are the public, and that’s exactly where it starts.

“We should be policing ourselves and I think here in Suffolk, we haven’t seen those horrendous breaches. We do have a low ‘R’ rate here in Suffolk and hopefully the public will respect the regulations and make the sensible choice. Where there is that blatant breach then please do call us and we will attend where and when we can.”