Police chief takes first public questions on handling of coronavirus crisis

POLICE and crime commissioner David Keane has held his first Q&A with Chief Constable Darren Martland on the Coronavirus crisis.

Mr Keane put Cheshire residents’ questions to CC Martland to give reassurance about policing and the pandemic, in his role to ensure Cheshire Constabulary is delivering an effective service.
More than 30 individual questions were submitted ahead of the session which were grouped into key themes that covered the following areas: the policing approach to Coronavirus legislation, policing priorities, crime reporting procedures and how Cheshire Constabulary is protecting and supporting its staff.
In addition, there were some specific ‘local based’ questions asked, which will be addressed separately with a direct response from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner after consulting local policing colleagues.

The chief constable provided a broad overview to the policing approach to dealing with the current Pandemic. In regards to legislation and the policing approach, CC Martland outlined that the Constabulary has delivered extensive training materials to officers and staff and has asked them to adopt the 4 Es approach of engaging with communities to explain the legislation and encourage compliance with enforcement action only taken as a last resort.
He outlined that there was some initial confusion, on the part of the police and the public, in relation to a number of specific aspects of the legislation, which mainly related travelling to and from locations for the purposes of exercise, which have been addressed and clarified.
He also emphasised that the vast majority of the public in Cheshire are fully compliant with the legislation and, therefore, the need to resort to enforcement action is minimal.
In regards to policing priorities during the pandemic, he stressed that police are still continuing to provide a visible policing service by investigating crime and bringing offenders to justice, protecting vulnerable people and dealing with local issues and concerns including domestic abuse, crime, traffic-related matters and anti-social behaviour.
Describing the need for officers and staff to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when meeting with members of the public face-to-face, the chief constable said he has ensured sufficient PPE is available for all those that are on the frontline and that clear guidance had been issued in regards to when this should be used.
He also said he will not tolerate any abuse of his staff and, in a small number of occasions when individuals have deliberately coughed / spat at officers and staff, enforcement action has been taken.

Finally, the chief constable reminded the public of the ways to report crimes and concerns to Cheshire police, dialing ‘999’ in an emergency or where there is a risk to life and for all other enquiries calling 101 or reporting crime on the Cheshire Police website.
PCC David Keane said: “These sessions provide an opportunity for members of our communities to seek reassurance on what Cheshire Constabulary is doing to keep us safer during the ongoing pandemic.
“These are uncertain times which are presenting a series of challenges we have never faced before but it is reassuring to hear that the chief constable and his officers are doing everything they can to effectively and efficiently manage policing resources.”
The virtual Q&A sessions will take place every Tuesday and Cheshire residents and businesses are invited to send their questions to pcc@cheshire.pnn.police.uk with the subject title ‘Reassurance Q&A’ by midnight on Sunday to be answered the following week. Alternatively, questions can also be taken by phone during regular office hours by calling 01606 364000.

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