Yesterday (Tuesday, 24 March), Commissioner Cressida Dick spoke with the media about our policing position following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday (23 March).
In her interview, the Commissioner said “I have huge faith in the ability of my officers. The tradition of the British policing is one of talking to people, listening and understanding them but also, if necessary, to escalate and be very firm.
I am sure the vast majority of people, young and old, will comply with the new guidance and my officers will deal with it if they don’t.”
Our officers have been out around London and have reported that the majority of London’s citizens are following the Government’s advice of staying at home, unless under certain circumstances including:
o shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible and no more than once a day;
o one form of exercise a day - e.g. a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with your household;
o any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
o travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
o all non-essential retail, including clothing and electronics stores, and other premises including libraries, communal places within parks (playgrounds), and places of worship (except for funerals) will be required to close;
o all gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding households or work-related are banned; and
o all social events , including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals with immediate family are also banned.
Anyone who is not following the restrictions set out by Government is being spoken with by officers and reminded of the advice. This is the same for non-essential businesses that have remained open. We have needed to speak with some groups where we have seen them gathering in parks and these groups have then dispersed.
We do not, at this stage, have additional powers to enforce these new measures, but these will follow. We will be applying our common sense and experience, taking a sensible and graduated approach to the situation.
Met officers are all used to navigating challenging situations that require good judgement and in many ways this is no different. Whilst the circumstances we are dealing with are unprecedented and fast moving, alongside you we will be working to keep people safe and encourage everyone to play their part in this significant national response to reduce the impact of COVID-19.
Although most people prefer to report crime online or by calling the police, we know that some prefer to speak to a member of staff at a front counter at a local police station. For that reason we will be keeping at least one front counter per Basic Command Unit (“BCU”) open at this time, and in some BCUs more remain open.
The Government advice is for the public to stay at home unless for certain specified circumstances and, as such, we would prefer for people to remain in their properties and only visit a front counter if it is absolutely urgent.
Anyone who wants to report a crime in London is asked to do so via the Met police’s website: https://www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/ or by tweeting @MetCC.
Officers are continuing to investigate offences and crimes and carry out their daily duties to keep London safe.
The public should only call 999 in an emergency.
We thank you for your continued support and wish you well. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions.
Chief Inspector Penny Hands