'Weary and fed up': South Yorkshire Police boss raises concerns for policing during lockdown

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has raised concerns for policing during the lockdown with fears that people feel ‘weary and fed up’.

By Claire Lewis
Friday, 6th November 2020, 1:56 pm

Dr Alan Billings voiced his concerns this week as the nation was plunged into a second lockdown over the rising coronavirus infection rate, which risks overwhelming the NHS.

He said he fears officials in England were too slow to react to the rising number of positive cases and responses to the pandemic have had a ‘whack-a-mole’ feel rather than being part of a ‘strategic’ plan.

Dr Billings said: “When we look across the world, a real difference is developing between the Far East and Europe. “In the Far East they were faster to see the need for total, national lockdowns and for suppression to be sustained. They were much stricter in enforcing the rules. And they sustained a consistent message throughout.

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South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings

“They are now on the way to something closer to ‘normality’, though remaining cautious and watchful.”

He added: “In England, coming in and out of restrictions seemed reactive – a whack-a-mole feel – rather than strategic. Now we are buying time – buying time to suppress the spread of the infection and get us closer to the moment when a vaccine becomes available, which is not likely to be this calendar year.

“All of which continues to raise issues for policing as people become weary and fed up.

“I don’t doubt that the vast majority will continue to observe the restrictions. But this may be more out of respect for the law than confidence that the authorities know what they are doing. And that is not the best place to be.

“It is easier for the police to enforce the law when the law, and what the law seeks to prevent or achieve, makes sense in terms of an overall plan. We need confidence that what is now proposed will indeed get us to that better place.”

The new lockdown started yesterday and is expected to be lifted on December 2.

Households cannot mix apart from those in support bubbles and all shops selling non-essential goods have closed.