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Police take action against just two people in West Midlands for flouting coronavirus lockdown rules

By Richard Guttridge | Coronavirus | Published:

Police have taken action against just two people in the West Midlands for ignoring the coronavirus lockdown rules.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson

Chief Constable Dave Thompson said it showed the vast majority were following the guidance issued by the Government to try and slow the spread of Covid-19.

The region's most senior officer also hit back at critics of police forces for being "over-zealous" in enforcing the rules, saying there had been a "silly focus" on a small number of incidents when officers were broadly having sensible conversations with the public.

Mr Thompson admitted he was "worried" about the risk of infection among his officers and that he hoped testing would be available soon - but only after it has been provided for NHS and other healthcare workers.

The chief constable said he had been heartened by the public's response to the crisis.

So far only two people have been summoned to court. Mr Thompson did not elaborate on the reasons why.

He told the Express & Star: "The public are following the advice really well. The public have been brilliant on this.

"We have only summonsed two people in the entire force area for non-compliance.

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"People have been utterly amazing. I have said repeatedly if three million people didn't want to do something we wouldn't be able to stop them."

It is this response from the majority of people which has made the police chief particularly irritated by criticism and negative coverage of some forces' actions over the last week.

Derbyshire Police came in for particular criticism for filming dog walkers with a drone on the Peak District and using dye to turn a lagoon black to make it less appealing.

A ban on people going to the Lake District was also blasted as going too far.

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Powerful

But Mr Thompson said: "Some things may not have been the way we would have done it in the West Midlands but it just feels like they are having a go at police for being over-zealous the reality is people are trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances.

"We're not going to get it right every time, people just need to be accepting of that.

"People have grasped how serious this is, they are queuing outside supermarkets and are in good spirits.

"I think a powerful story about how understanding the public are being is getting drowned out by a silly focus on drones and Easter eggs."

Mr Thompson admitted certain parts of the lockdown guidance will be impossible to police.

"It is going to be quite hard to stop someone on their third run of the day. That just doesn't make sense," he said.

"We are concentrating measures on where we think there are large groups gathering. Some things are very hard to prevent."

On the prospect of testing, Mr Thompson said it was important illness doesn't sweep through the force but that health workers had to come first.

"Obviously I'm worried about our people being at risk of infection. We have got some people ill in the force," he added.

"There are discussions, once we have got rigorous testing for health workers."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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