Cambridgeshire will receive an extra £300,000 to use for what the Government is calling ‘coronavirus enforcement’.
Details of a total of £60 million surge funding were announced yesterday with the money being split equally between local councils and police forces.
The Force’s share of the policing fund is £309,760.
Liz Groom, chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation, said the funding was welcomed but questioned whether the restrictions placed on how the money could be used could mean that even more pressure was placed on officers.
“We are in the midst of a recruitment campaign but, while we await the effects of that to be felt, we simply don’t have enough officers to meet the demands placed on them,” says Liz.
“Inevitably, I can see the Force using this funding to pay officers over-time. That will be OK in the short-term, officers are used to putting in extra hours when operational needs dictate but I am not sure that is sustainable in the longer-term and we could see them experiencing burn-out with their mental health suffering due to fatigue.”
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has welcomed the funding saying any genuine new money which helps ease the current pressure can only be a positive thing.
But he added: “My question is, what is expected in return? Policing is over-stretched, and colleagues are already doing all they can during this pandemic. Any suggestion that this extra money would take away the discretion which permits police officers to do their jobs to the best of their ability would be counterproductive and damaging. Alongside this announcement must be an effective public information campaign. This must make it crystal clear what is expected of the public.
“Police officers are already targeting those who wilfully breach Covid-19 regulations and this will continue. The new money will assist policing, but what we really need are more officers and a better communication strategy from the Government.”
The Government announcement said the aim was for police to be more visible to ensure members of the public comply with the restrictions in place to try to halt the spread of coronavirus while councils would get funding and guidance to support compliance and enforcement.
It would, ministers explained, enable police to increase patrols in town centres and ensure that people are complying with the new restrictions, particularly in high-risk areas. The police would also, they said, provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test and Trace to enforce self-isolation requirements.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The vast majority of the British public has come together, followed the law and helped prevent the spread of this virus.
“But we’ve been clear that, with infections rising, we will not allow a small minority of people to reverse our hard-won progress.
“This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences.”
Forces will be required to provide the Home Office with enforcement plans to demonstrate how the money is being used to tackle non-compliance with public health rules.