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Covid-19 police chief says the force will not ‘over-police’ lockdown

"We’ve all got to get through this together as a community"

01 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Neil Holyoak gives a briefing to officers

THE police officer leading Camden and Islington’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic said his focus is on maintaining public confidence in the force by not “over-policing” the lockdown.

Neil Holyoak, the two boroughs’ Superintendent of Neighbourhoods, said his teams will be using a “soft touch” when it comes to ensuring residents are sticking to the government measures.

We’ve all got to get through this together as a community,” said Supt Holyoak. “Hopefully, we won’t have to endure this for too long but we do we don’t want to be too heavy-handed and damage the trust the public has in us.”

We want to police by consent. What we don’t want is that people think we’re over-policing this,” he added.

“If people are gathering then we are approaching and being open, honest and friendly and explaining and encouraging people to go home.

“So I’d say to anyone, please abide by the government’s guidelines which are online if you need to read them. If an officer does approach it will be to repeat these guidelines and not to prosecute in the first instance.”

Supt Holyoak said:  “No one has gone through this before so we’re all learning together. But, we’re well placed in north London at the moment because we have a strong command team.

“There’s also been a big drop in crime which is very welcome because if it was at the same level it would be a real challenge. It’s also helpful that the vast majority of people in Camden are being compliant with the legislation.”

Supt Holyoak said they have taken steps to protect officers including holding briefings outside in the open air rather than in police stations.

They now have hand sanitiser but Supt Holyoak admitted “there is a lack of PPE” with attempts to remedy the issue as soon as possible.

“Our message would be we are here to uphold the law. The drug dealers and other criminals will still be pursued so I don’t want people to worry about that,” he added.



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