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Police speaking ‘almost exclusively’ to young people about social distancing

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ISSUING ‘words of advice’ to people to ensure they remain two metres apart ‘may not cut it’ as the Island moves further out of lockdown and into the summer, the States police chief has said.

Chief of Police Robin Smith (28503824)

Robin Smith made the comments during the same week that States Members voted 33-11 in favour of proposals to give the police powers to arrest and fine people up to £1,000 if they refuse to obey social-distancing rules.

Mr Smith said: ‘The majority do listen to the words of advice, but I think that is going to become more and more tricky as we go into the summer months. The words of advice may not cut it.’

He added: ‘In the past few weeks, most of our interactions have been with young people – particularly on the beaches and in the parks.

‘I will not say exclusively, but I will say a large, large proportion do involve young people.

‘I was looking at some CCTV footage and some body-worn video from police officers and it is almost exclusively young people – and they would, would they not, go to the beaches and enjoy this beautiful Island. The problem is, of course, when they do not social distance.’

Later, Mr Smith, who made the comments during a Scrutiny hearing this week, said that during lockdown reported crime fell ‘off a cliff’.

However, he added that normal levels had returned and he was now expecting May’s figures to be similar to the levels reported in the same period last year.

‘Crime was down approaching nearly 60% at the height of the lockdown period, compared to the same period last year,’ he said.

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‘But what we are seeing now is not only Covid-related incidents – and predominantly they are concerned members of the public who are contacting police to advise us of concerns, largely about groups of people on beaches and in parks – but also dealing with normal policing business, some of which involves young people, mental health and crime, for example.’

During recent weeks, both the States and honorary police have dealt with Islanders holding rowdy parties on beaches and in parks – with many leaving glass, drinks cans and other litter behind.

Mr Smith also said that the closure of bars and nightclubs had altered the night-time economy, rather than shutting it down.

‘We still have a night-time economy, but perhaps, more importantly, it is now an unregulated night-time economy,’ he said.

‘In pubs and clubs there is a degree of regulation. The licensees and staff will stop serving drinks to people when they have had enough.

‘What we are now seeing is people buying alcohol and then going to homes, or more specifically, as you have seen in the media, they are going to the wonderful beaches and consuming alcohol in groups there. So the night-time economy has shifted.’

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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