‘Threat of serious disorder’ with pubs reopening, says West Midlands PCC
The opening of pubs and restaurants on Saturday in the latest lifting of lockdown could cause "serious disorder", the West Midlands police commissioner warned today.
David Jamieson said that Saturday looks set to be the busiest day of the year for the force.
It comes as other police bosses across the Black Country, Staffordshire and West Mercia are urging residents to not jeopardise progress made in the fight against coronavirus and lead the region into a localised lockdown.
From Saturday, eased lockdown rules will see pubs, restaurants, hotels, hair salons, cinemas, libraries, playgrounds and theme parks allowed to reopen with social distancing guidelines in place.
Mr Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said: “Saturday is set to be the busiest day of the year for West Midlands Police.
“Significant preparations are being put in place and we are working closely with pubs, to mitigate the threat of disorder. I am in favour of the gradual lifting of the lockdown, based on the science, but not in the way the government have proceeded.
“It would have been sensible for the government to schedule the first day of pub openings for midweek or the Monday afterwards rather than a Saturday. That would have allowed venues to take a more sensible approach.
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"That is not just my view but is shared by many police and crime commissioners across the country who raised this issue with the policing minister recently.
“I am worried that by opening on a Saturday, rather than letting things bed in over the week there is a likely threat of serious disorder.
“I would urge people to act sensibly on Saturday.
“The government are out of touch on this issue and should be listening to police leaders when they make major decisions like this.
“When things go wrong it is the police who have to pick up the pieces.”
West Midlands Police said the force had been working with local councils to help pubs, bars and restaurants prepare for reopening under the new ruls.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham, police commander said: "Businesses have suffered financially as a result of the lockdown measures and it’s great to see them being able to reopen this weekend.
"However we need people to take personal responsibility for their actions and behaviour − observe the social distancing measures that will be in place and follow instructions laid out by venues so they are able to operate effectively and stay open.
"Throughout the pandemic we have continued to patrol our towns and city centres and obviously this weekend will continue to put the appropriate resources in place. We will not be ‘policing’ measures in venues, this is the responsibility of licensees but clearly we will be on hand should the need arise."