Lockdown easing ‘not a green light to go back to normality’, warns police chief

A police car patrols Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A police car patrols Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

In his latest column, Suffolk Constabulary chief constable STEVE JUPP praises the public’s efforts in adhering to lockdown restrictions - but says there is more work to be done yet.

Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the UK has faced. The communications around strict social distancing guidance came in to slow the spread of the virus and avoid any further loss of life.

Thanks to the behaviour and actions of the public in Suffolk, while sadly suffering tragic losses of life, the spread has slowed for now.

However, the easing of lockdown restrictions is not a green light for us to go back to normality. The pandemic is not over and the virus still poses a significant threat.

It is vital that we build on our shared sense of responsibility to help minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus in Suffolk and keep the county a safe place.

Therefore, we must adhere to social distancing, use our common sense, be aware of all the advice and guidance, and maintain our personal hygiene to stop the spread of the virus.

As we move forward I want communities to continue to reflect on that, because this is not the end of the road. There is still a very long way to go and this is definitely about taking baby steps together.

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We will continue to police in the same way. From the outset, officers have been advised to use discretion when dealing with people flouting the rules and this has not changed.

The message is very clear and the emphasis has been around engaging, education and encouraging people to understand why the lockdown has been put in place, why it is important restrictions are respected and to draw attention to community spirit and responsibility.

We will continue to keep you safe, working with you, maintaining your support so the new government guidelines can be effective now and in the future as the easing of restrictions continues.

Like all of us since this pandemic started, to change our lives we have adapted the way that we currently police the county.

The police service, I believe, is good at dealing with a crisis. All of your officers have responded fantastically to ensure that not only have we played our part in supporting the government and the NHS, but that we continue to uphold the law and keep you safe in the traditional policing way.

We have introduced a number of new ways of working to keep our staff safe and at work in order to carry on delivering the policing mission.

We have brought forward the use of technologies which we had planned to introduce later in the year. This has made us more agile and flexible in our approach and has been received really well by the workforce, and I am determined that we will learn the lessons and not sink back into old ways of working when we all finally defeat the virus.

What has changed also is the obvious changes in daily demand into the constabulary. I want to reassure you we have taken advantage of that.

We are using the time effectively to identify and arrest those who still continue to commit crime and who are using the crisis sadly to their own criminal advantage to try to exploit our communities, and particularly the vulnerable.

We have just launched a programme of work called “Evolve”. This will be led by our new assistant chief constable, Rob Jones, who brings with him a wealth of experience from the Metropolitan Police in this field.

The aim of this is not only to learn the lessons of how we have policed the crisis, but to continue to work with partners to ensure we have shared learning and understanding so we can all adapt and change together to carry on delivering the best policing possible to you.

It will be clear to all of us that as well as facing a health crisis we all now have an economic crisis in front of us.

I want to reassure you, as your chief constable, we are already thinking and planning how we can deliver greater efficiencies, but at the same time be more effective as public servants.

It is wonderful that we are still receiving such a volume of thank you letters. I can assure you this means the world to us knowing the appreciation you have in our dedication to keeping you safe. Thank you.

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