'The toughest times in the history of policing': West Midlands chief calls for greater penalties to combat street parties
The West Midlands' Chief Constable has urged the Government to consider greater penalties to combat illegal street parties – describing the challenges posed by Covid-19 as "the toughest times in the history of policing".
Dave Thompson praised members of the public for their "amazing" efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus but said organisers of illegal street gatherings should face stiffer sanctions than those not wearing a mask on public transport.
He also said the force would be "seeking to maximise visibility and interventions" in Sandwell to bring infections down after a rise in the area.
In his latest blog, Mr Thompson also warned that his officers were now at the "hard yards" stage of enforcing new regulations.
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Mr Thompson, who is taking a break from his duties next week but is not going on holiday, wrote: "March seems a lifetime ago.
"We began with huge staff absences as people self-isolated.
"The public followed the lockdown better than any of us could have imagined.
"People are still being amazing (look at face mask uptakes in shops) but there is fatigue and some aspects of lockdown are openly challenged by a minority."
After urging his officers to stick to the rules around social distancing and hand-washing as they return to Covid-secure workplaces, Mr Thompson wrote: "I am very concerned over the illegal gatherings in the form of car cruises or street-based parties.
"These are disorderly, dangerous events that risk spreading infections.
"We have to effectively intervene and deal with these issues.
"If we do not then this will result in increased delinquency and risk to the public.
"In these circumstances people are taking deliberate, concerted mass action to breach the regulations.
"I am encouraging government to consider additional powers and stronger deterrence for these circumstances."
Mr Thompson added: "If you organise an illegal street party the sanction must be more serious than not wearing a face mask on a bus."
Ending his latest message to colleagues, he went on: "This is all very tough to manage and it is coming at a time where we are missing social contact with friends and family and some sun.
"These are the toughest times in the history of policing.
"The longest emergency outside a war and one that is being fought against an invisible disease.
"These are historic times but I know we will add to our proud history through your efforts."