Police representative defends cops tasked with patrolling Sheffield parks during pandemic

The body which represents police officers in Sheffield has responded to criticism of officers over their handling of groups gathering in parks as the weather heats up.

By Claire Lewis
Thursday, 1st April 2021, 2:41 pm

Large crowds were reported in parks across Sheffield earlier this week as groups took advantage of the easing of lockdown restrictions at the same time as temperatures in the city soared.

Scenes in Endcliffe Park on Tuesday caused outrage.

A rape, violence and fires were reported as well as vandalism to a war memorial.

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Steve Kent, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, has defended police officers tasked with patrolling parks in Sheffield during the coronavirus pandemic

South Yorkshire Police has put together a policing plan as the Easter Bank Holiday weekend looms, with the force having faced some criticism for failing to break up large groups.

Steve Kent, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said: “The warnings that we and the national Federation have sent out with regards to lockdown restrictions and the no win situation our officers are facing are coming to pass again.

“We have seen the footage of crowds at a park in Sheffield and I have then seen the inevitable criticism levelled at the policing response.

“I do think there has to be a level of common sense applied, which is what our force has done its best to apply throughout this pandemic, often without the credit it deserves.”

He added: “The policing world is busy and I frequently hear that officers are pulled from pillar to post across the county and whilst we see restrictions lifted it leaves us in a very difficult position as the lines become more blurred.

“Visiting every park in the force and checking every group of six and group of people is a very challenging task indeed and suggestions that we do that are very unrealistic.

“What our officers have to do, like they do so well on a day to day basis, is to apply proportionality and common sense and that has to be aimed at dealing with the safeguarded related crime and larger scaled organised events which are in breach of the regulations, which has to be more important than checking numerous groups of people in a park area.

“Expectations of us doing that are unrealistic and set our officers up to fail when quite frankly they have done an amazing job in these last 12 months handling a near impossible situation.”

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