Fury as 'woolly' Covid rules leave police 'stuck in middle'

Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds. Picture: Police Federation

Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds. Picture: Police Federation - Credit: Police Federation

Politicians have been attacked for "woolly, vague and extremely grey" advice offered to police officers during the third national lockdown.

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation, which represents officers, highlighted how officers were “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” while policing the third lockdown.

Mr Symonds told of the challenges and criticism officers faced while trying to keep the public safe from coronavirus as well as why officers should be on a priority list for the Covid-19 vaccine. 

He said: "Officers have been dealing with new laws introduced with guidance sometimes not forthcoming until weeks after the law on the statute book. 

“They have faced huge challenges in interpreting the law which in some aspects particularly around leaving your home for exercise is woolly, vague and extremely grey. 

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“We have mixed messages from politicians which have left officers stuck in the middle trying to support our communities in balancing the enforcing of the laws, offering advice and guidance to the public to keep us all safe."

Mr Symonds said during this lockdown, like the two previous ones, officers had been "putting themselves at risk in policing their communities". 

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He said it was right officers had been asked to step up enforcement but insisted officers were in a difficult position.

He referred to negative stories in the media about officers issuing fixed penalty notices to people who had been found many miles away from their home address exercising. 

Mr Symonds said: “Police officers are in a difficult position and we find that we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. 

“Sometimes we do get it wrong but we’re out there trying our best to protect everyone from the spread of this virus.

"What I’m calling for is the stubborn minority of people who continue to either break the law or are using the areas in which the law is woolly, vague and grey to place themselves and others at risk to stop and think about the thousands of people who have lost their lives to this terrible virus."

Previously, home secretary  Priti Patel has defended police lockdown fines, insisting rising coronavirus cases and deaths illustrated a need for "strong enforcement".

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