South Yorkshire’s Labour police commissioner says ‘it’s not my job’ to know Tier 3 Covid rules – but young recruits ‘can’t afford to get confused’ or they will lose public trust
- Labour’s Dr Alan Billings said its ‘not my job’ to know the new Tier Three rules
- Rules will apply to Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield from Saturday
- But he insisted ‘it is the job of the police to get it right’ or face ‘serious trouble’
- Said new recruits must get it right to instill ‘trust and confidence in police force’
Officers ‘can’t afford’ to get the new lockdown rules wrong because they risk losing public trust, South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner said.
Labour’s Dr Alan Billings said its ‘not my job’ to know the new Tier Three rules which will apply to Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield from midnight on Friday.
But he insisted that ‘it is the job of the police to get it right’ and said new recruits need to understand the rules so members of the public can have ‘trust and confidence in their police force’.
Those living under Tier Three are banned from mixing indoors with other households and from non-essential travel outside the locked down area.
The rules – which apply to Liverpool and Lancashire and will soon be enforced in Manchester – also require the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve meals.
South Yorkshire will also see additional regional measures, including the closure of betting shops, casinos, soft play centres, and gym classes – but gyms will stay open.
Labour’s South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings (pictured) said its ‘not my job’ to know the new Tier Three rules which will apply to Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield from midnight on Friday
Those living under Tier Three are banned from mixing indoors with other households and from non-essential travel outside the locked down area
Yesterday, the officer leading the national police response to the pandemic admitted he did not know the new rules and slammed the new three-tier system was too confusing and the public needed simpler messages.
And today, Labour’s Dr Billings was asked whether he knew the regulations which will be enforced on his patch in less than 48 hours.
Dr Billings told the Today Programme: ‘Well unfortunately it’s not my job to do it. But of course it is the job of the police to get it right.’
He said there is ‘a lot of confusion’ over what rules can be enforced legally, and what is ‘simply advice’.
He added: ‘Now the public may get confused, but police officers can’t afford to do that. And that’s a real challenge.’
When again asked about the new rules, Dr Billings confirmed that people can’t meet in restaurants ‘if they’re not of your household’ under the nation-wide Tier Three restrictions – but added that there ‘may be some local ones’ as well.
He said: ‘It’s that area I think that people find most difficult.
‘But as I say it’s not my job to do it, it’s my job to ensure the police do it and that they get it right because if they get it wrong they’re in serious trouble.
‘And the whole business of trust and confidence that the public should have in their police force, if this is going to work we have got to trust our police. That’s the crucial bit.
‘I think you have to remember that all police forces are also recruiting at the moment so we’re getting a lot of very new police officers who are going to be on the streets for the first time.
‘And they’re members of the public like ourselves and they hear all this stuff on the media constantly: Tier One, Tier Two, Tier Three.’
He said it is an officer’s job to ‘sort all that out in [their] head’ to give people ‘trust and confidence in their police force to get these things right’.
‘When we had the initial lockdown we had a couple of missteps in our area where the police were a little overzealous and they had to reign that in. So they do need to get this absolutely right and to nail it,’ he said.
‘But I think it’s not just confusion that’s going on, there’s uncertainty, there’s anxiety.
‘People are tired now in the way they weren’t at the original lockdown.
‘There’s anxiety around the future of their jobs. And there’s a lot of anger as well because of the constant chopping and changing. I think what people need is a sense that the government knows what its doing.
‘That there’s some overall plan and the latest restrictions make sense in terms of that overall plan.
‘And if you lose any sense that there is that broad overall plan, this is merely reactive. That’s when people start to get angry.’
Dr Billings said he doesn’t think Sheffield will see a rush of revellers in bars and pubs on Friday as lockdown-weary locals have final night out before the rules come into play – but he said ‘it’s always a danger’.
He added: ‘You’ve got to get your timing right. Which is why when governments are contemplating a new change in the rules I think they should consult the police as well as local authorities.
‘I think they should have consultations nationally and locally. Because the police will understand very well how people behave when you do certain things to them.’
In an embarrassing blunder yesterday, the officer leading the national police response to the pandemic admitted he did not know the new rules.
Assistant chief constable Owen Weatherill told MPs the new three-tier system was too confusing and the public needed simpler messages.
He proved his point by failing to clarify that households must not mix indoors in Tier Two areas.
Questioned on the issue, he could only reply: ‘I have not got the regulations in front of me so I cannot give you a definitive answer on that.
‘There are so many different variations – I am not conversant with every set of regulations.’
Owen Weatherill, pictured, told MPs the new three-tier system was too confusing and the public needed simpler messages
Another police chief also slipped up during the farcical session of the Commons home affairs committee.
Lancashire Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: ‘The big one for me moving from Tier Two to Three is your household not mixing with others inside your household – not mixing or going out for a meal with people from another household.’
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairman of the committee, pointed out this was wrong because household mixing indoors is banned in both tiers.
Mr Rhodes told MPs he had been asked for advice on the regulations by his daughter. He said his officers were as confused as the public after having to grapple with five changes to Covid laws in seven months.
He added: ‘We have tried to tell them they don’t need to be an expert on all this sort of stuff within the first 24 hours. They can be as confused as other people.’
He said his force would issue fines only for clear offences such as organising an illegal rave to sell drugs or throwing a party with 70 guests.
Lancashire Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, pictured, also slipped up during the farcical session of the Commons home affairs committee
Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, pictured, told the police chiefs they were wrong
Boris Johnson was forced to make an embarrassing apology last month after getting mixed up over the details of his local lockdown measures.
At yesterday’s hearing Mr Weatherill said of the new tier system: ‘Introducing them in the way that we have done has introduced greater confusion. We are all struggling with that. Where there is confusion, there is an opportunity for people to become worn down and confused and less likely to comply.
‘I made strong representations that we should look for simplified, consistent tiers that would be the same wherever they were applied. That’s what I thought was going to happen ten days ago.
‘The reality now is already starting to drift, and as we are seeing with Tier Three, there are nuances creeping in.’
The Hertfordshire officer, who is strategic lead on Covid for the National Police Chiefs Council, was criticised for his response to the Extinction Rebellion protest that blockaded newspaper printworks last month.
He said his force was ‘committed to facilitating peaceful protest’.
Gwent Chief Constable Pam Kelly also raised concerns over the rising number of people refusing to pay fixed penalty notices who are now clogging up the court system.
Around half of the Covid fines issued in England and Wales have gone unpaid so far.
Source: Read Full Article