Plymouth police officer says "time is our enemy" in fight against coronavirus

    PC Jon Hitt talks to Radio Plymouth about his time working on the frontline as some lockdown measures are eased across England

    A local police officer says that ambiguity in regards to lockdown rules is being used against them.

    PC Jon Hitt, based at Charles Cross Police Station, has been describing his time working on the frontline amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    He says in the 17 years he's been in the job, this has proven to be a completely different way of working:

    "It's different on the basis that it's very unusual times that we're in at the moment. This virus has hit us and caused a lot of concern and a lot of heartache.

    "You still have the one or two individuals that quite clearly sometimes don't even know what day it is, let alone that there's something very serious going on in the world right now.

    "From a policing aspect it's different because we're not dealing with the incidents that we were once dealing with on the streets, due to the fact that the numbers of people aren't there and the ones that are there are generally ones that are living on the streets."

    Updated guidance for police officers in England has stressed they have no power to enforce government guidance - such as two-metre social distancing.

    The National Police Chiefs' Council has reminded officers to stick to what is written in emergency laws. 

    That includes leaving your home without a "reasonable excuse" and gathering in groups. 

    PC Hitt says people in Plymouth have generally stuck to the rules and have taken it seriously:

    "As a whole it's been good. Unfortunately there has been the minority and the people that quite clearly don't want to stick to the rules and do what they want to do regardless of any impact it could have on anyone else.

    "We've had to also deal with a bit of ambiguity in regards to what they can and what they can't do, which is generally used against us when we're trying to tell people that they can't be out and about, mixing socially, or making unnecessary journeys.

    "Ultimately we end up getting into verbal disputes on the streets with these people.

    "There have been tickets issued to people clearly breaking the rules and there have been lots of excuses thrown at us, but I would have to say it's been pretty good, there's just been that minority.

    "Time, unfortunately, is our enemy really with something like this because people, after a period of time, will become restless - they will start getting worried about not seeing friends or family, or being able to go to work and earn money."

    On Wednesday (13 May) some lockdown measures were eased, including people being able to meet one other person from a different household in outdoor settings, as long as they stay two metres apart.

    People in England who cannot work from home have been returning to their workplaces, as long as social distancing can be maintained.

    In response to the latest announcement, PC Hitt said it is likely that it may cause some ambiguity:

    "We're not entirely sure how this is going to be received or impact on us at the moment, time will tell.

    "We ourselves have to be absolutely sure about the rules and regulations because there's nothing worse than dealing with somebody and they know more about this than you.

    "So we have to be absolutely sure that we're not unnecessarily penalising people and make sure that we're fully in receipt of the rules to make sure we can administer those sufficiently and correctly on the streets."

    LISTEN to PC Jon Hitt talk to Radio Plymouth, where he discusses the day to day threat he and other force members face in potentially contracting coronavirus whilst working on the frontline:

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