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Forces plan for spike in offending as restrictions eased

As pubs, bars, retailers and restaurants reopen, senior officers outlined contingency plans.

But with it came warnings that the pandemic is not over and there were significant risks including terrorism.

The Metropolitan Police and the Police Federation made clear that today was not being treated as a “return to normal”.

The Met’s joint agency work with council enforcement teams is not being wound down.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, the Met’s lead for Covid-19 response, said: “Where we need to take action against those who dangerously flout the rules we will do.

“While the case rate has declined in London, we have seen the concerning position in northern Europe. It is important that we all stick to the rules so further lockdowns, or restrictions, are avoided.”

Surrey Police is targeting burglars in a bid to avoid a spike in offending. The increase in footfall is creating an opportunity for offenders who have not been able to target properties to step up activity.

“As Covid restrictions lift, burglars will also be taking advantage of their new-found freedom,” the force said.

Merseyside Police said it would continue to enforce against people who flouted the restrictions that remain.

The force revealed it had taken enforcement against a party organiser – and would again.

“A man has been charged with two offences and 58 fixed penalty notices for Covid regulation breaches have been issued following a party. The organiser of the party was issued with a fine of £10,000,” the force said.

But along with regular policing priorities came a warning that the threat of a terrorist incident was high.

Counter Terrorism Policing’s Senior National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, said the easing of lockdown restrictions could provide a greater opportunity for terrorists to operate.

The threat to the UK from terrorism remains at SUBSTANTIAL, meaning an attack is likely.

DACSO Twist said: “Terrorism will understandably not have been high on anyone’s mind in recent months, and I would describe the threat as temporarily suppressed during lockdown, because it was difficult to go out in public and actually do anything.

“But that means that as the crowded places which have traditionally been the target for terrorists start to fill with people again, there is always the potential for that risk to come back.”

A public awareness campaign was launched aimed at businesses, with a call to update security plans as well as COVID-19 rules.

Frontline police leader John Apter said policing’s relationship with the public had already been tested to the limit and forces will now have to manage multiple pressures.

The Fed Chair said: “We haven’t had to police the night-time economy for most of the past year as pubs and clubs have been closed. When they start opening again, it will add even more pressure on officers who are already working flat out.”

As well as COVID-19, the spike in offending and the terror threat, he warned his members will have to prepare for major events too.

“For policing, in addition to dealing with the day to day demands there are large scale events like the G7 summit in June to consider, with officers from all parts of England and Wales to assist,” he said.

“We can only plan for so much. In the end, it’s a question of resources, and as we have seen at protests around the country, there have been increasing requests for mutual aid as forces have to call on each other for support. The campaign to recruit 20,000 police officer is a good thing, but it’s not enough.”

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