Wednesday 13 May saw COVID regulations change what is permissible as part of the government’s easing of the lockdown.
Let’s all start by acknowledging this is a tricky ask. The government needs to contain the infection rate, allow a reasonable level of easing and start up the economy. Quite hard.
Before we get to the changes to the restrictions we need to recognise:
A visit to Wolverhampton custody
This new phase is now more complex. I have heard some commentators talk about the new regulations making policing impossible. I am not sure I agree for a few reasons.
The central thrust of the government guidance remains. Hand washing, social distancing and limiting going out. We must remember what reduces infection, but we have to start getting back to a more normal way of life as it is unsustainable and damaging to retain a lockdown like we have done.
The easing means government are trusting the public to make choices by giving more options. Less ‘absolute’ rules. That means more ambiguity but we need to trust people to act sensibly. More freedom but higher penalties when you step outside them.
You can easily point to inconsistency – I can visit the house of a stranger that I want to buy but can’t go to my grandma’s? I guess we are going to hear some of this but the balance is trying to keep the economy moving and still prevent transmission. Getting work and the economy moving is more important than partying in town with friends.
I have always said these rules will be enforced by the public on themselves not by us. We simply help nudge people in the right direction. Our role is now about making sure people are with people from their own household rather than why they are out of their homes. As activity steps back up so will our normal business. We will need people’s behaviour to change as the indefinite period for which we will face COVID-19 will not be sustainable for the police to have such a large role in regulating public health.
I do confess the easing of restrictions does feel very difficult for young people. My own children did not ‘high five’ at the chance to visit a garden centre, go to the tip or play golf! We will need to think hard about young people in the coming weeks. They are desperate to socialise and mix and as their street parents, we are often the people saying no! This will take real care and sensitivity.
Like other organisations we are also adapting to the new workplace regulations. We are not seeking further staff to return to work yet as those of you who can work at home are generally doing this. We are carrying out assessments on our buildings to ensure we meet government requirements. However we are moving back towards a new normal in our workplace as we enter June. More news will follow on this.
As always thank you for the great work you have been doing. It’s a strange time but you are doing a great job and proving that this work matters.