How should new Covid rules be policed in Dorset? Views sought from residents

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill has launched a survey asking residents for their views on how Dorset Police should respond to enforcing the new ‘Rule of 6’ in the community.

The UK Government announced new measures in England to suppress COVID-19 on 22nd September 2020 and it’s down to the police to enforce the new rules including the restriction of only allowing six people to meet up at any one time.

The online survey has already had over 1,300 responses from the public and in Martyn Underhill’s report to Dorset’s Police and Crime Panel meeting on Thursday 24th September 2020, he said that a clear picture was already emerging.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill
PCC for Dorset

Should now take a harder line

He said that initial responses showed that 92 percent of the public thought that Dorset Police’s approach in the past towards enforcement of Covid breaches using engagement, education and encouragement to get people to comply, had been correct but 56 percent were indicating that the police should now take a harder line.

Martyn Underhill told the panel:

“Because of the survey results, because we are getting very low responses from the public complaining about breaches of the ‘Rule of 6’ and because of the agreement between MP’s, myself and senior politicians in the county, we have agreed not to overreact and not to go out issuing tickets on every street corner.”

He added:

“Other areas have overreacted for a good reason. You’ve got to remember we are still one of the lowest areas at risk from Covid in the country – so if you add those three things together; the risk level, the senior politicians’ view and the public response to the survey, I think we are taking the right approach which is to ratchet up the notches but to do it slowly.”

14 to16 percent spike in recorded antisocial behaviour

In the meeting, it was explained that all Covid-related breaches in Dorset are reported as anti-social behaviour and this had led directly to a 14 to16 percent spike in recorded antisocial behaviour in the county.

Under questioning from councillors, Martyn Underhill defended the police’s approach of calling Covid-related breaches antisocial behavior. He said:

“People get really scared of Covid breaches, particularly our elderly and the vulnerable. Anti-social behaviour is all about people’s perception of feeling safe and you don’t feel safe if you’re medically vulnerable and you’re near someone who is breaching the rules.”

He added:

“I know from people who I speak to that seeing someone not wearing a mask in a shop is more distressing to most people, than someone playing music next door.”

Report Covid-related breaches of the ‘Rule of 6’ online

Members of the public who wish to report Covid-related breaches of the ‘Rule of 6’ are being encouraged to do so by email, rather than phoning Dorset Police, to prevent putting extra pressure on the service.

Complete the survey

The Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner’s survey on COVID-19 enforcement has now ended.

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