Coronavirus: What does lockdown mean for West Country police forces?

On the first day of lockdown (Tuesday 24 March) we look at how police in the South West have responded and what it means for them and the public.

Avon and Somerset Police

'Please stay home, save lives' is the message from Avon and Somerset Police.

In a statement released today, Chief Constable Andy Marsh says: "This is a health emergency and I can’t say it any more starkly as that."

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens also spoke about why extreme lockdown measures have been put in place.

The force says it still needs to seek 'further clarity from the government' around the new legislation announced in the Prime Minister's statement.

Once the legislation is in place they will then enforce the new measures.

This will give forces will then have the powers to break up and potentially fine anyone meeting in groups of more than two people.

The Chief Constable said: "Initially we will be seeking to persuade those not listening to the advice to do the right thing – this will be through talking to people and reasoning with them. I am confident people will listen. This is for all our safety."

The police will also have the powers to close all non-essential business which remain open throughout this time. The Chief Constable said they will work with local authorities to do so. He said:

If staffing levels dropping due to illness, the force say they will have more special constables helping out on the frontline.

Credit: ITV West Country

Devon and Cornwall Police

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said that Devon and Cornwall police officers would be deployed 'with immediate effect' to encourage people to adhere to the government lockdown measures.

He continued: "As part of the Local Resilience Forum we have been working with key partners for several weeks developing plans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. There are over 30 partner agencies in the resilience forum who, as part of the local communities themselves understand what is required and we have a range of measures in place to ensure core services are maintained for vulnerable members of the community."

Gloucestershire Police

In a statement by Chief Constable Rod Hansen he said police have been told to 'focus on policing by consent, working with people.'

He said: "Enforcement should be a last resort as we hope people will listen and cooperate."

Gloucestershire police officers have been encouraged to work from home where possible and split teams to work 'in tactical locations across the county' in order to limit face-to-face contact.

In a statement Chief Constable Rod Hansen said how some officers had cancelled leave to make up staff numbers, and others were working longer shifts.

They will also be calling upon special constables.

Police Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said that small businesses will be protected during this time.

Credit: ITV West Country

Dorset Police

Police & Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill, has said he 'knows personally the seriousness of the situation' as he himself is having to self-isolate whilst his wife has symptoms.

He continues in his statement to say that co-operation from the public is key. He says: "British policing, unlike policing in some other countries, is founded on respect and engagement with the public."

He continued to say this also applies to how we treat each other.

He continued: "But as a country we step up when the going gets tough. History proves that time and time again, and now we must all step up to look after our family, friends and community."

The force also warned against cyber criminals trying to take advantage of the crisis: "Please be aware that these scams are operating and if possible warn older relatives to be careful".

Dorset Police have advised public to follow government advice around 'good hygiene, access to health services, social distancing and self-isolation'.

Wiltshire Police

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said he is unsure what the coming months will hold both for the police service and the general public, but he is 'determined to ensure people continued to have the utmost confidence in local policing'.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know