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President publishes open letter ahead of Easter weekend

President Paul Griffiths has had the following letter, addressed to the public, published in today’s Daily Telegraph, urging communities to work with police to fight COVID-19 as we approach the Easter Bank holiday weekend:

“I write to you as we approach the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.  Never have I had a stronger message for the public, and a plea for all to do the same thing this Easter.   Stay home.

We are living in an extraordinary time, and this calls for measures which are extraordinary, but are so simple for us to comply with.

We have been addressed by the Queen in a special public message, the likes of which has only been seen four times before.  We have heard the sad news that our Prime Minister is in intensive care, battling the very virus he has been leading national attempts to fight, and we have tragically lost more than 7,000 people.

As a Police Service, we are doing absolutely everything we can to play our part, to support our healthcare colleagues and to save lives.  We need the public to play their part too.

It is understandable that the introduction of new police powers has caused some confusion. This type of legislation does not normally appear this quickly, but, there has been no choice but to make things happen faster than ever before, as lives depended on it.

The police do not want new powers to become more powerful, in fact, our strategy is centred on the fact that we will do everything else possible before we take enforcement action against someone who is not adhering to the law. 

Thankfully, most of the public do not care about the detail, as they have a clear understanding of the scale of the issue and behave in a way that is based on common sense and care for others. Where this is not the case, some forces are choosing to take specific action to prevent people breaching the guidance, often with proactive measures.  It is regrettable that this must happen.  We are in a free and privileged society and these preventative measures go against everything we normally accept about our lifestyles.  

But the COVID-19 Coronavirus can only spread if we move it.  If we stop moving, stay at home and listen to the advice, it will inevitably slow.  These additional measures, such as closing tourist destinations, cannot surely be called into question.  Police officers have a duty to protect, and by helping slow the spread of the virus by making sure we simply stay at home, we will all feel the success of the Government policy to save lives.

Information continues to be released at a fast rate as we build our strategies for the ongoing fight against COVID-19, and of course it is essential that we understand legislation.  It is our duty as a police service to communicate this properly, and we must use our powers correctly and proportionately.  This underpins everything we are as a Service, trusted by a public that is ‘policed by consent’. 

I would ask the public to trust us.  Put your belief in the fact that we are doing everything possible to protect our health colleagues and the wider public, but we need your help. On behalf of our  members, who are the senior operational leaders in every police force, I would urge everyone during this Easter weekend, and beyond, to help us to protect the NHS and save lives by staying home.

At a time when we are seeing images of exhibition centres converted to hospitals, of funerals of children whose parents cannot be there to say goodbye and a rising death rate, should there really be any question over what we need to do?”