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‘Unrealistic’ for police to unilaterally enforce Covid regulations

‘Unrealistic’ for police to unilaterally enforce Covid regulations
Earlier Justice Minister Naomi Long said police will lead enforcement.

It is “unrealistic and impracticable” to expect police to “unilaterally enforce Covid regulations”, the representative body for officers has said.

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long said earlier that police will visit licensed premises to ensure compliance with the new mandatory Covid certification scheme.

She described “proactive policing with visits to licensed premises just to ensure the right measures are being taken”.

“But the focus of this will be to support those proprietors who are trying to do their best. It’s really where people are clearly not trying to comply with the advice,” she told the BBC.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said the service is already under resourced and simply will not be able to cope with any major spike in demand for officers to intervene to deal with”.

Chair Mark Lindsay said: “We simply don’t have the numbers to be everywhere.

“Re-directing officers from other duties isn’t realistic and anyone who thinks the police can shoulder the burden as sole enforcement organisation is either delusional or not serious about protecting society.

“Officers will continue to do all they can to encourage and explain and where that fails, then there will, of course, be an option of enforcement.

“But adding to the workload will mean some other areas of policing such as calls to help vulnerable people and crime will slip down the queue. Policing already shoulders much of the workload for under pressure public services and to expect us to have the capacity to deal with the major demand caused by Covid enforcement is unrealistic.

“There is some resentment amongst officers over the way they are being asked to bear the weight of this additional workload, whilst already stretched to capacity. This cannot be a solo run by police officers.

“Others, too, have to share the burden to deal with the Omicron variant and the steps that are necessary to keep us all as safe as possible.”