Last week we marvelled at the British public, often reserved yet always showing their thanks for the big moments, come out for a huge round of applause for the amazing nurses, doctors, ambulance staff and indeed all the staff of the NHS. I would include social care staff too who are doing an amazing job.
You will have felt some of that love in the rainbow pictures, sandwiches and thanks from the public we have received too. We need to keep that love coming as we have some tough weeks ahead. Thank you for this card from Joshua on behalf of St Edmund Campion.
I say this because last week we set about encouraging people to follow guidance and enforcing some the most restrictive laws we have seen in our nation. We are doing this because of an emergency and our need to save lives and protect the NHS by stopping the infection rate. The purpose is more important that the powers.
You will have noticed the powers don’t quite cover all the government’s advice. The government has issued quite a lot of advice on social distancing but only a part of it is backed by powers. It is important we recognise we want to encourage people to follow the advice and we can only enforce that advice where we have law. This has caused some confusion and is resulting in lots of calls to contact seeking action where there is no legal basis. There have also been national issues over how the penalty notices will work. This reflects the pace of events.
Last week, not surprisingly, we saw some areas in the country where the police approach was criticised. It showed how fragile public support could be if we get this wrong. This was in the first week. We may find ourselves engaged in this for many weeks or months so care is needed to keep the public behind us. Following the advice and sticking to the law. This was the theme of last week’s blog.
But, let us for a minute reflect where we have got to. The streets are pretty well empty. Travel has fallen dramatically. The public are following the advice and encouragement. We are winning.
This is the reason why we have sought to strongly publicise the empty streets and positive acts we have seen. The exceptions, and I will come back to that, deserve less attention.
We are winning by changing behaviour not by enforcement.
Clearly I do realise we have seen some terrible behaviour of a few people. Ignoring the law, threatening to spit at you. We are going to report on these facts but in a measured controlled way and that is why we have asked you not to share these incidents on social media. The exceptions to the rule draw more attention than following the rules. The more people perceive the rules are being broken the more others will.
We do however need to tell the story of how you are delivering for the public at this tough time. For people to see you as real people and to understand the challenges you face and the fears you have. Seeing us as real people who care for this community is vital. You will see more work on this this week. I want to share your images and ensure the public understand what we are doing at this historic time.
Soft persuasive power where we are working with, and seen to be working with, the public wins the day. That way, if these restrictions remain through some long hot frustrating weeks, we keep everyone safe and keep those rainbows coming.
Finally, as you see the death rate growing you can see challenges are going to start in the next few weeks. ACC Jardine is going to do a blog to explain more to you about how this major incident will be managed. We are going to shed some tears but we are well placed to help our communities through this time.
Thank you for the amazing, considered, courageous policing you are doing.