Police ‘praying for rain’ on Saturday when pubs reopen

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said choosing a Saturday was ‘very bad’ timing.

David Jamieson
David Jamieson

Police are “praying for rain” on Saturday as pubs and clubs stage a cautious reopening after almost four months of lockdown.

West Midlands Labour Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said while he thought people would “use good sense”, it was “very bad” timing by the Government to pick a Saturday night.

He added: “The chief constable and I often meet in the summer, we often have a discussion about the weekends.

“It is the case that when the weather is inclement, the problems we have are somewhat reduced.

“So we are praying for rain this Saturday.”

Speaking on a weekly video call with reporters on Friday, Mr Jamieson said he was “supportive” of the resumption of the licensed trade across Birmingham and the Black Country because people needed an “outlet”.

He added: “What this could amount to be though is, for the police, the busiest day of the year so far.”

Mr Jamieson commended licensees for working with the police, adding: “What we don’t want to find ourselves becoming like is Leicester, where we have a lockdown of a part or all of the area.”

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Chief Constable of West Midlands Police David Thompson said officers would be supporting licensees on Saturday (Richard Vernalls/PA)

But he urged the Government to communicate more clearly with local authorities, adding he only found out on Twitter that the easing of lockdown measures would start at 6am on Saturday.

He said: “It would be helpful if Government listened to people locally and got advice about things like when the lockdown was lifted.

“So when I heard it was a Saturday night, mid-summer with three or four months of pent-up frustration – this was a very bad day to choose for the unlocking.

“My view, very strongly, is it could have started earlier this week and we could have led slowly into it.

“We wouldn’t have the big bang final, super-Saturday that it’s now being called, which has the potential to cause a lot of problems and difficulty.

“This morning it wasn’t even clear when the lifting of the lockdown would start, what part of Saturday, was it midnight tonight?

“Then we get a Twitter round about lunchtime from No 10 (Downing Street), that it’s actually 6am.”

He added: “We’re here to help, we’re not here to hinder or to block what is happening but we must have the right sort of information if we’re going to help.”

West Midlands Police Chief Constable David Thompson said the reopening could cut the numbers of “illegal gatherings in terms of raves, car cruises or general street barbecues and parties” which the force have had to deal with in past weeks.

He added that officers at the weekend would be “supportive” of a licensed trade “that has been working incredibly hard and is certainly facing a number of unknowns as they open”.

“Our intention will be to try and support that effort to make sure we have a successful return to an aspect of normality that many people have been looking forward to,” he said.

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