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WALSALL POLICE: ‘Covid crackdown saves lives’

WALSALL POLICE: ‘Covid crackdown saves lives’

Image: LDRS

A police chief has defended cracking down on Covid rule-breakers in Walsall in the wake of social media criticism from politicians and the public.

Andy Parsons, chief superintendent at Walsall Police, said it was vital his officers continued to enforce the coronavirus rules to save the lives of people being put at risk.

At a meeting of Walsall Local Outbreak Engagement Board on Tuesday (January 19), he also urged ‘influencial’ people such as elected members to take any concerns about action taken directly to him rather than heading straight to social media.

Chief Supt. Parsons said: “Where people are now having parties or drinking in pubs that are actively seeking to avoid being discovered, that’s not about explaining, educating or engaging, that’s about enforcement.

“Unfortunately, Walsall featured on a very recent ITN news article but that highlighted some of the challenges.

“We’ve got quite a long way to go to ensuring lockdown regulations are adhered to.

“We’ve heard people claim this is some kind of myth. I struggle to believe how anyone can believe this is any kind of myth to the point it actually defies belief.

“We know we have got to keep enforcing because it is actually saving lives.

“When we are challenged and people ask why we are not out there catching burglars and drug dealers, our response needs to be much more pointed to the fact if more people complied – and don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of people do comply – and less breached the regulations then less officers’ time would be required to enforce.

“Every time there is a breach, there is the potential there for an increase in transmission which could ultimately result in a fatality.

“So actually, we are saving lives by enforcing what some consider to be draconian rules.”

He added: “Social media can be really helpful and really unhelpful.

There have been some recent examples of elected members and influential members of the community overtly commenting on what they consider to be a misapplication of the law.

“From a policing perspective, that’s really difficult because it undermines what we are trying to achieve and all the messaging going out there.

“If there are any concerns, views or issues, I would ask people to contact me so we can have an open and frank discussion about it rather than going straight to social media.

“There was a recent issue raised in relation to protests in Birmingham. That went straight to social media and it didn’t give us as an organisation the opportunity to furnish a bit more fact to that which might have changed the potential approach.

“We know that actually what we say and what we do is really important for what the public will say and do.”

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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