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The Police Federation in Northamptonshire represents the 1251 officers between the ranks of Constables and Chief Inspectors. I have the privilege of having recently been elected its local Chair at an extraordinary time in policing and in the life of our country.
Last week, we saw emergency legislation passed which gives new powers to the police, to add to the raft of powers and laws we already have. I would like to appeal to the people of Northamptonshire in relation to their expectations of us in the weeks and months ahead.
Our policing is done by consent, which is unique in the world – we are still proud of our founder’s principle that the police are the public and the public are the police. In my last ten years as a neighbourhood officer, I have always stressed that we ‘do’ policing with the public, not to the public.
The Coronavirus era will one day in the future have a legacy. As far as policing is concerned, we want that legacy to be a positive one, not one in which the police are remembered for being heavy-handed or having had to enforce the lockdown powers.
The prime function of police officers is to protect life: Preserving and saving life is at the heart of the Government’s instruction for us all to stay at home and isolate, that is why the police have been given these powers. The messages cannot be clearer to stay at home to save life.
I appeal to the public of Northamptonshire to follow the instructions so that the powers enacted last week do not have to be enforced by my colleagues at a time when policing is geared up like no time before to fight crime and protect. As a police family, we will be equally affected by this awful pandemic and want to be helping you, not have time spent rounding up or being called to those irresponsible enough to ignore the advice.
My colleagues are being asked to engage, explain, encourage and – if all else fails – enforce. That’s what we’ll do, and we will do it with good will and professionally. Enforcement will come last (and be assured, we will resort to this if the other Es aren’t effective) but that is in the hands of the public.
On behalf of the rank and file of this county’s police force, help us to help you by following the rules which are there to save all our lives.