As new guidelines for officers are released to help them assist health care professionals, the Police Federation of England and Wales welcomes these changes but reiterates PPE must be available for those on the frontline.
The College of Policing and National Police Chief’s Council have today (April 3) published new guidance around additional powers for police in England under the Coronavirus Act 2020.
The guidance explains the additional powers which police now have to support healthcare professionals following the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020:
Use of powers under this legislation will be public health led. The powers are to support public health officers in the testing and treatment of individuals where needed, to avoid further transmission of the COVID-19 virus
Partnership arrangements with Public Health England and collaborative decision-making are key to enforcing these provisions
A public health officer can direct or remove a person to a place suitable for screening and assessment. They can ask a constable to support this process if necessary. This should occur only in the most exceptional circumstances
A constable must seek the advice of a public health official in judging whether they have reasonable grounds to suspect a person is potentially infectious unless this is impracticable. If an officer has reasonable grounds, they can remove a person to a place suitable for screening and assessment or keep the person at that place until a public health officer can assess them. Details of what constitutes reasonable grounds can be found in the full Coronavirus Act brief
Police are able to use reasonable force to enforce these powers where necessary. However, in line with the Health Protection regulations guidance published last week to assist officers with policing the lockdown
The “Four E’s” approach should be taken - Engage, Explain, Encourage the public and only Enforce as a last resort
National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter, said: “Given the speed with which the Covid-19 legislation was introduced, the practicalities of policing this unprecedented lockdown were always going to be challenging with inevitable teething difficulties.
“This guidance from the College of Policing helps give the desperately needed clarity for officers across all forces in England and Wales to ensure a consistent approach. In addition to this guidance, we must also ensure that officers have access to the personal protective equipment needed to keep them and the public safe.”