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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Vast majority of public complying with coronavirus rules – Chief Constable

Chief Constable Andy Marsh has thanked the overwhelming majority of the public for working with police officers to respect the Government’s advice to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

In an interview with BBC Newsnight last night, he reiterated the force’s desire to engage with the public to protect our NHS and that issuing fines is only a last resort.

He said: “We are trying to support this new law and encourage people to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. We’re doing this through sound judgement and common sense.

“We have lots of PCSOs and officers out on the streets and we are encouraging people to comply with the legislation and to protect lives and for their own good.”

With rules around driving in the headlines, he added: “We would discourage driving unless it is essential. So (instead of) driving to go somewhere to have a walk, we would rather they walk from their home address.

“But we haven’t actually given an enforcement notice for anybody in Avon and Somerset driving to take their dog for a walk. We are explaining, engaging and encouraging people to comply and we have had a great reaction to that.”

But Chief Constable Marsh was clear that the police and public need to work together during this difficult time.

He said: “We aren’t going to enforce our way out of this problem – we will get out of it because people want to solve this problem and we will get out of it because we have the public by our side. Once we have come out of this, I want the public of Avon and Somerset to have an even stronger relationship with their police because we did this together.

“This is an emergency. None of us have faced this before. The vast majority of people understand and are doing their best to comply. There is a lot of brilliant police work going on out there, people rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it.”

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens added: “I know local people have had to make big changes to their everyday lives to ensure they are adhering to the Government’s stringent measures. However, we must remember the reasons why we are doing this: to support the NHS, lessen the impact of the virus and protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Avon and Somerset Police is well-led and well-organised, and I know officers, volunteers and staff are rising to the challenge to ensure local people are supported and are safe. I agree with Chief Constable Andy Marsh’s sentiment that the police must work in partnership with local people; we are stronger when we work together.”

To watch the full interview – and a report following police officers in Weston-super-Mare – find the programme on the BBC iPlayer.

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