APCC Chair gives evidence to Lords' Constitution Committee
The Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Paddy Tipping has told a House of Lords committee that police officers have not always had sufficient or timely enough information to effectively enforce Covid-19 regulations.
Appearing before the Constitution Committee, looking into the impact of the pandemic, Mr Tipping said:
“The simpler the messages, the better it was. So right at the beginning of lockdown it was Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. It was a message we all got, and we all understood. There was unanimity between policing it and the general public. As we’ve moved forward the messages have got more diffuse, more difficult, and much harder for frontline officers to police.
“I think simplicity is the watchword. The situation that we had on a couple of occasions, where enforcement guidance came out some days after changes, really wasn’t acceptable. We have moved on from that. We are in a better position but - let’s be clear - at the time it wasn’t good.”
Mr Tipping added:
“Having good communication, good notice, and a chance to challenge things before they are introduced is the right way forward. It is manifestly wrong that police officers were being asked to issue fixed penalty notices when the professional advice behind it wasn’t available.”
Mr Tipping, who was giving evidence to the Constitution Committee alongside John Apter from the Police Federation, also commented on confusion around police officers’ role in enforcing social distancing.
“During the pandemic we had members of the public dobbing each other in and there was a lack of understanding that the two-metre rule wasn’t a matter for the police - it was merely guidance. There was an enormous effort across police forces trying to ensure officers understood what was enforceable and what was merely guidance.”
However, Mr Tipping said he would be very surprised if policing’s relationship with the public was damaged long-term in light of the pandemic.
“I think the general view is that the police have done reasonably well.
“Sure there have been some difficulties, but all of us have tried to work really hard, together with the wider community, to get through this. And I think there will be a sigh of relief when we all get through it together.”