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Fears new coronavirus rules will jam up police phone lines with neighbour complaints

PUBLISHED: 05:59 11 September 2020

PC Peter Baitey chats one couple out exercising during his patrol of Eaton Park yesterday (Good Friday) as the police make sure the public are social distancing properly over the Easter period, during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

PC Peter Baitey chats one couple out exercising during his patrol of Eaton Park yesterday (Good Friday) as the police make sure the public are social distancing properly over the Easter period, during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Police fear new coronavirus rules will see their phone lines jammed with calls from people reporting suspected breaches.

Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds. Picture: Police FederationNorfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds. Picture: Police Federation

With prime minister Boris Johnson announcing that from Monday people can meet up in groups of no more than six, additional strain is set to be placed on police forces around the country to enforce this.

Andy Symonds, the chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation has said he is fearful this will result in people jamming up control room phone lines to report breaches - which will draw resources away from more pressing crimes.

And while the government has said the inception of ‘Covid marshals’ in the community would help ease the strain, Mr Symonds is far from convinced by what he described as “a red herring”.

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He said: “We have got to look at the reality of how we are going to police the new regulations. We are relying heavily on the people of the Norfolk to adhere to the rules and on a whole we are a law abiding county.

“What I am fearful about though is that people will inundate us with reports and we will have an incredible amount of calls from people reporting their neighbours for having seven people in the house and so on. People have got used to relaxation of the restrictions so might take a while to get used to the new regulations and revert to the kind of behaviour we saw at the very start of the lockdown.

“As a constabulary we will have to prioritise the calls as we have very finite resources and there is already such demand on us to deal with things like vulnerable missing people and serious incidents.”

Mr Symonds added: “The marshals feel like something of a red herring to me, that raise more questions than answers. Who will be employing them? How will they be trained? How will they know how to deal with resistance?

“Our officers are highly trained and know how to deal with this, but people may not take kindly to being marshalled and we need to know these people will be trained to deal with this.”


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