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Police Chief: Lockdown Approach Won't Change

Jersey's Chief of Police says the approach to policing the lockdown will not change, even though people are more aware now of the rules they must abide by.

The Stay at Home Order has been extended to 11 May.

So far, officers have been using a three-strike approach in their attempts to encourage people to comply with the restrictions.

17 people have been arrested since lockdown came into effect on 30 March.

Robin Smith explains why officers won't become any stricter.

"We often go back to what the modelling, the scientists and what the numbers say. The models that we've seen have not reached anywhere near the peaks thankfully. The public has responded absolutely magnificently, yes we've had some transgressions but the numbers speak for themselves.

"Do I need to enforce more? If I saw that peak was getting close, by which I mean the public wasn't being kept safe and if capacity in our hospitals was likely to be overwhelmed, then I think the police would have a different reaction and may need to enforce that and I think the public would expect us to do that.

"Currently looking at the numbers and there's already discussions being had about the easing of the lockdown, I don't think there's a need to do that (enforce more) just yet."

A lockdown exit strategy is due to be unveiled by the Chief Minister this Friday (1 May).

As well as the 17 arrests made - Jersey Police officers have closed six premises, stopped more than 8,000 vehicles and given words of advice to more than 1100 people since lockdown came into force.

Despite the number of arrests, the Chief says the vast majority have behaved well.

Mr. Smith adds that from a policing perspective, not much is likely to change over the coming weeks - and has this message for islanders.

"Let's see what the new restrictions are, but the key bit must be to continue to be socially distanced to we don't spread this thing and therefore we are able to deal with the challenges.

"Maybe we're at half time. Maybe we're 1-0 up. We don't want to finish the full game 4-1 down."

In an extended interview with Channel 103, the Chief of Police also spoke about:

Domestic Abuse and Crimes

There have been 98 reports of domestic abuse since lockdown came into force - an increase of 14% on the same period last year.

But reports of domestic crimes are down more than a third -  from 53 in April 2019 to 34 this month.

Mr Smith says that actually concerns him more if it means victims feel unable to call for help.

"It's one of those police figures where I look at that and think, that's something I need to understand more and encourage more. I do that by referencing not only contact police, but also the Children and Families Hub, the Youth Enquiry Service, Jersey Domestic Abuse Support and also, of course, Jersey's Women's Refuge."

* Children and Families Hub - 01534 519000

* Youth Enquiry Service - 0800 7350 010

* Jersey Domestic Abuse Support - 01534 880505 / www.jdas.je

* Jersey Women's Refuge - 01534 768368

PPE

The Chief says all his officers have access to the PPE they need.

There has been widespread concern over a lack of equipment for those on the frontline - although the government has said in recent days there is now more than 30 days stock of each item on-island.

Police officers are stopping people to ask about their journeys during lockdown - prompting islanders to question their use of masks.

Mr Smith says everyone in the force is aware of the PPE approach.

"There are some clear guidelines about when to use PPE. For example, an arrest if it's hand on, that's an entirely different thing and therefore you will see masks etc being worn.

"Ordinarily as social distancing is the best sort of protection, you won't necessarily see officers wearing masks all of the time."

Dealing with BBQs and Parties

The top officer has admitted his team has had issues dealing with barbeques and parties, especially over the weekends.

Officers have been out in force over the last three and a half weeks to encourage the government's instructions on social distancing.

That's set to be ramped up again during the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr Smith says they have been closed very quickly - adding that people have been very compliant.

"If I'm being brutally honest, I was expecting there would be more parties, particularly picking up on some of the learning from the UK and speaking to police chiefs over there who've had more issues with parties - we have not.

"It's probably one of the areas that we would respond do really quickly."

Of around 8,000 stop checks carried out so far, around 5,000 took place over the last Bank Holiday.

Dog walking on beaches

The Chief of Police says he's been asking his team for their views on whether the rule on allowing dogs to be walked off-lead on beaches should be extended.

As things stand, people will have to keep their dogs restrained from this Friday between 10:30 and 6.

However, because of the impact of lockdown, there has been debate on whether the winter beach times law should be extended.

Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham has tweeted this week to say he thinks it's a sensible approach - but the challenge is that regulations would need to be approved by the States - and they don't sit again until the 12th of May.

Mr Smith says he can understand the calls for a temporary lifting of the rules.

"Undoubtedly there is going to be a degree of restriction into May and then maybe some really good arguments that actually it's a great thing for people to be able to walk their dogs (off-lead) on the beaches for a bit longer, bearing in mind the beaches aren't going to be as busy as they ordinarily would be in May. There would also be some competing arguments.

"We've talked about mental health as well. People being able to walk their dog is something that I think people find incredibly pleasurable so whether we extend it or enforce it are two different things of course.

"I want to be sure that I understand everybody's point of view before I make a decision on that."

You can watch the full extended interview with the Chief of Police, Robin Smith, at the top of this article.

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