Supporting the police to enforce the COVID regulations appropriately so we can get back to living normally as soon as possible

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely challenging period for everyone, including the police, who have had to enforce lockdown restrictions which have changed dozens of times, in addition to their ‘business as usual’ roles.

All the while, they risk catching the virus and taking it home to their families. Over the last year, I have heard many personal stories from key workers and police officers. They as well as NHS and other emergency service staff deserve our respect for the way they have continued supporting the public throughout the pandemic.

Since March 2020, Avon and Somerset Police has adopted a proportionate response approach to applying COVID-19 regulations based on the nationally agreed principles of ‘Engage, Explain, Encourage and then Enforce’.

As the pandemic has developed, Avon and Somerset Police has increasingly targeted more serious offenders especially those organising illegal raves and has handed out significant fines including several £10,000 fines to event organisers. During summer 2020, Avon and Somerset closed or disrupted 25 illegal raves and took direct enforcement action including seizure of equipment and arrests.

In November 2020, the Police and Crime Commissioner surveyed local residents about the police’s approach to enforcing the restrictions locally. Whilst a majority backed the police’s approach, a significant minority wanted greater enforcement and the police have listened.

I am pleased that Avon and Somerset Police has played such a key role in supporting the response to this health emergency whilst maintaining public confidence – the latest results of our local survey recorded public confidence in the police at the highest levels since 2015.