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College of Policing publishes updated guidance on new powers


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In a bid to counter claims that forces were being heavy handed, the updated guidance makes clear that enforcement will be the last resort.


Follow the rules: COVID-19 guidance has finally been updated by the CoP

Date - 1st April 2020
By - Chris Smith

The College of Policing has issued the updated advice for frontline officers dealing with people who are outside or travelling during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a bid to counter claims that forces were being heavy handed, the updated guidance makes clear that enforcement will be the last resort.

When dealing with vulnerable people, the guidance should not be used and officers must revert to normal procedures.

As expected, it restates the use of the “four Es” from first contact: engage, explain, encourage, enforce.

The document was finally released at 9pm on Monday night, a week after the lockdown began, after two days of a frantic signing off process involving Whitehall officials. The original legislation was started on 19 March.

The College of Policing guidance said: “Officers will make sensible decisions, employ their judgement and continue to use other powers.

“Officers will keep an inquisitive, questioning mind-set. It may not be safe for everyone to be at home and officers will consider whether there are any safeguarding issues at play, for example in cases of domestic abuse, child abuse or mental health.”

The guidance also clarifies the reasons for people being out in public:

obtaining basic necessities

to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household

meeting a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions

seeking medical assistance

attending a funeral

moving house

caring for or assisting a vulnerable person who is someone: aged 70 years or older / under 70 years old with an underlying health condition / pregnant.

It added: “If safeguarding issues are at play, officers should not follow legislation and revert to normal processes for dealing with vulnerable people.”

Every force in the country has reported that the majority of people in their communities are abiding by the lockdown and very little enforcement action has been needed. Hertfordshire Constabulary revealed it had yet to issue a fine for non-compliance.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said it would monitor how the updated advice was received and would continue to offer advice to individual forces if needed.

“We'll continue to support officers and staff to use these regulations working with the public,” it said.

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