South Yorkshire police boss concerned over 'pressure cooker' effect of lockdown and what will happen next

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has expressed concerns over the ‘pressure cooker’ effect of lockdown and what will happen when restrictions are eventually lifted.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 2:49 pm

Dr Alan Billings said South Yorkshire Police’s senior officers are planning for the easing of lockdown and looking at the impact it is likely to have on the force, including an increase in demand.

He said there ‘anxieties’ over potential spikes in the spread of coronavirus as the population begins to mix again and what will be expected of police officers.

Dr Billings said: “We are looking forward to the easing of lockdown and other restrictions and what that might mean in terms of how the public will respond and behave.

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South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings

“We have some history here, we know what happened last time - people began to gather again and mix and mingle. The virus can still spread, so there’s anxieties around that and what the police will be asked to do. The last thing we want is conflict between the police and the public.

“We need to keep public opinion on the side of the police being able to enforce rules and regulations in a way which keeps public confidence. The police are planning that now.”

He added: “The police in South Yorkshire are looking at what will happen when we release the night time economy again for example.

“We know the sorts of things people, will want to do. It (lockdown) has been a very long time and has had a pressure cooker effect on the population. People feel they have been confined and they will want some release from that but they need to do that in a responsible way.”

Dr Billings said: “Whatever happens, the government will say the police must enforce the law but it is up to each individual force how.

“It is a tricky one for police forces because they are government rules and regulations which they have to enforce but they don’t themselves have any say on those rules and regulations, so they have to do the best they can.”

He said the ‘sensible’ approach adopted in South Yorkshire so far has worked, with education first then fines and arrests ‘only coming later in the day when people have been really willful and reckless’.

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