‘Minority of the public still choosing to put lives at risk’

A police officer walks through Ipswich during the first coronavirus lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BR

A police officer walks through Ipswich during the first coronavirus lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Chief Constable Steve Jupp on how the force is handling Covid-19 measures, and a warning to those recklessly breaking lockdown rules.

We are currently in unprecedented and challenging times. As a constabulary we acknowledge most people are trying their best to adapt and follow the rules for everyone’s safety. I would like to thank you for that, and am confident that you will keep doing the right thing as these new measures are taking effect.

Suffolk police will continue to engage with people proportionately, fairly, and using the well-established 4E’s process (Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce) to support the new regulations.

However, a minority of the public may well still choose to put lives at risk by their behaviour. Not following the regulations and measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus is unacceptable, and my staff will not waste time with endless encouragement for those who knowingly or deliberately break the rules.

People recklessly ignoring the rules should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice. Over and above our normal responsibilities, the service has had to adapt to the realities of Covid-19 since March, and we will continue to assess the situation and respond accordingly. Whilst demand levels remain high, we are well prepared to respond to any crime or other issues that arise.

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Over the past few months Suffolk’s Road Casualty Reduction Team (RCRT) has been maintaining its fatal four policing remit, and engaging, encouraging and enforcing during the Covid 19 pandemic, whilst adapting to the government guidelines.

Usually during the summer months the RCRT are patrolling our roads, keeping you safe and at times being deployed on duties such as escorts for government and royal engagements, and various cycle tours such as Ride London.

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With such activities postponed for the foreseeable future, for the past six months on significantly quieter roads, the RCRT have provided extra policing visibility within communities, whilst maintaining their policing remit of the 4Es mentioned above. On several occasions during the first lockdown they stopped members of the public questioning the purpose of their journey and also stopped drivers who were taking advantage of the empty roads by exceeding speed limits.

Social distancing measures of maintaining two metres, where practical, and wearing a face covering impacted on the way they issued tickets and carried out stop searches.

All members of the RCRT wear neck warmers which are utilised as face coverings and, to date, people who have been stopped have been more than happy to comply with the new practice, which has been a significant relief for the team as Covid regulations seem to be here for a while to come.

I continue to be overwhelmed by the many emails, cards and letters of support I receive thanking the constabulary for its work during these strange times. Of note, I would like to thank the children of The Willows Primary School in Ipswich who took time to each write in with some lovely words and pictures.

Words of kindness are a great comfort to all of us during this second phase of tougher restrictions and as we start to look towards Christmas it’s the values we have here in Suffolk of support, understanding and inspiration that mirror those we think of at Christmas which will help us get through this testing time.

Remembrance Day services across the county had a very different look this year due to the current climate, with scaled back services and wreath laying. As a Constabulary we always look forward to being part of honouring the fallen, and Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton was pleased to be invited to the Ipswich service, whilst Temporary Chief Superintendent Simon Mills represented us at the Bury St Edmunds service. At police headquarters colleagues laid wreaths at a much smaller ceremony. I know other smaller services were held, and many were live-streamed so we could all join in from the comfort of our own homes, or observe the minute’s silence from our front door step.

Last week the Police & Crime Commissioner and I hosted an online web chat with members of the public. It’s been unfortunate that we have not been able to hold our usual public meetings. I really enjoy and value those and its important for me to hear from your thoughts and observations on how we are keeping you safe. The online forum was therefore particularly important this year and we will plan to do another early in the new year. We had many interesting questions and observations, and I would like to thank all those who participated, and can assure you all issues raised have now been followed up.

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