PCC column: Our response to policing Covid restrictions
Over the weekend there was a worrying incident in Chippenham, where large groups of people leaving pubs in the town at the 10pm curfew time were involved in disorder and anti-social behaviour.
Police officers did attend and issued a Section 35 dispersal order which was successful in breaking the groups up and sending everyone home.
I am thankful to those officers who responded on Saturday night and appreciate that their actions ensured peace was restored quickly and without escalation.
It is important to remember that the police have limited resources and the thin blue line is being stretched more than ever before.
The events in Chippenham stand out because we have seen overwhelming cooperation from the public, particularly when it comes to the night-time economy.
Wiltshire Police has been working closely with our partners at Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council to ensure the appropriate support is there for licensees and that proactive patrols are in place to monitor potential hotspots and tackle issues before they become a cause for concern.
I look forward to making this even stronger as we plan to spend government allocation of £247,000 to increase the visible joint work both local authorities and police do. It is right that we support the police in the monitoring and enforcing the COVID restrictions and use our full range of powers. This includes increasing visible patrols, dedicated team of PCSOs responding to COVID concerns and spot checks with council licensing teams and trading standards team
I have been clear that I think our local authorities need to seriously consider the benefits that COVID marshals can bring in supporting officers on the ground and assisting when we see incidents like we did in Chippenham at the weekend.
It is clear that the vast majority of people are doing everything they can to follow the rules and working hard to keep us all safe by wearing face coverings and sticking to the rule of six.
Therefore I feel it is only fair that the small minority who behave in an arrogant and unsafe way, seemingly thinking that the law doesn't apply to them, should be appropriately reprimanded.
The fines the Government have set are there to be used in a proportionate way and I appreciate that the role of the police has been a difficult one throughout this pandemic.
But I believe I represent the views of the public when I say that I do want to see fines issued to those who break the Covid restrictions.