UK officers urged to ‘police by consent’ to avoid public unrest over coronavirus

UK officers urged to ‘police by consent’ to avoid public unrest over coronavirus

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said it was essential for the police to preserve “the trust and confidence of the public” as they exercised the news powers given to them by parliament last week. The UK’s head of counter-terror policing also called on the public to show patience and not to “judge too harshly”, as police forces strive to strike the right balance. In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Basu said that persuading and educating the public should be the main focus, rather than resorting to enforcement.

He wrote: “Preserving the trust and confidence of the public by policing by consent is our mantra, and has been since 1829.

“There will be a period of readjustment to our new responsibilities.”

He admitted that “not every police response will be sure-footed” and pleaded with the public to not judge too harshly the use of powers he “never imagined a British police officer would be asked to use”.

He added: “Everyone in policing is acutely aware that how we police this pandemic will be remembered for many years to come.”

This comes as a series of incidents over the weekend involving police actions provoked considerable public anger.

Police in Warrington, Cheshire, faced a backlash after revealing that they had summonsed “multiple people from the same household going to the shops for non-essential items”.

Officers from the same force also told a man that he could not exercise his dog in his own private field, because it was five minutes away from his home.

The Association of Convenience Stores reported on Monday that police had searched customers’ shopping baskets to remove “non-essential” items in pharmacies.

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“That is what I fear we are seeing now.

“I have to say the behaviour of the Derbyshire Police in trying to shame people by using their undoubted right to travel to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the fells so people don’t want to go there is frankly disgraceful.

“This is what a police state is like. It is a state where governments can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes.”

He added: “I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion, but Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions.

“There is a natural tendency, of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniforms to glorified school prefects.

“I think it’s really sad that Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that.”

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the police at the daily Downing Street press conference on Monday evening.

He said that while common sense was needed, the public should “bear in mind the number one message which the police are rightly trying to convey.

“My view is that people need to find the guidance, not just the letter but also to the spirit.

“That is the way we tackle this challenge and get through it quicker, and as quickly as possible, so I fully support the police in what they’re trying to achieve.”

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 23:27:00 +0000