Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has called on the public to give the police and other emergency services their support during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night outlined strict new measures to tackle the spread of the coronavirus and in a televised address to the nation ordered people to only leave their homes only under a list of ‘very limited purposes’.
Liz said: “This is an unparalleled situation with the Prime Minister now feeling it necessary to lockdown the country to help save lives, to support our NHS and to protect key workers.
“We ask at this time of crisis that the people of Cambridgeshire listen to the advice and stay in their homes unless it is absolutely necessary.
“The Force will continue to receive regular calls, and we will do all we can to protect the public, but we need everybody on board and doing their bit.
“This is about saving lives and supporting our NHS, I ask that the public gives us their support in this time of crisis,” she added.
Meanwhile, John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has highlighted a lack of clarity in some of the messages from the Government and policing bodies on the role of officers in tackling the crisis.
“While accepting this is a fast-changing unprecedented situation, there is confusion over some messaging, not only from certain parts of the national and local government but from within policing itself,” he explained.
“We want to do the right thing, but clarification is needed. We welcome the Home Secretary’s decision that enforcing the closing of pubs, cafés etc is a matter for local authorities and not the police.
“Clearly, if there is a need for police to attend then we will but, ultimately, this is a local authority matter and police should not be the first port of call.”
He also revealed a ‘considerable’ number of officers are self-isolating, and strongly re-iterated calls to urgently test police for the virus.
“This massively impacts our ability to police,” John explained, “If they were tested, we could identify officers who don’t have the virus and can go back to policing quickly – it also gives them the reassurance they need.”
The national chair said his priority was the provision of protective equipment for officers which he described as ‘patchwork around the country’.
“I absolutely understand that we are in a time of crisis,” he said, “But it would be wrong of me not to raise these concerns on behalf of front-line police officers who just want to do the job to the best of their ability.”
Under the new measures, all non-essential shops will close, as will playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and places of worship, except for funerals.
Members of the public must not leave their house except to shop for essentials, as infrequently as possible; exercise outdoors once per day, alone or with household members; receive medical treatment or provide care; and travel to and from work if impossible to work from home.
Police and local authorities will have powers to disperse gatherings, including through fines.