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25.03.2020 Europe

Poliec union says UK officers could stop coronavirus lockdown checks

LISTEN MAR 25, 2020

Amid police concern about adequate protection from the Coid-19 virus, a trade union suggests officers might stop doing lockdown checks.

In a communiqué on Tuesday evening, the trade union Unsa Police told its members they should not carry out lockdown checks without adequate protection from the Covid -19 virus.

Although the vast majority of people co operate when checked by police, a small minority do not and faced with members of the public who spit and physically resist, police officers want more protection.

Most ordinary officers conducting checks wear simple face masks but their eyes are not protected from the virus and they are not shielded from violence.

There have been numerous incidents including recent clashes around Paris and in Toulouse. A policewoman was seriously injured in Beauvais on Tuesday when youths threw bricks as she approached on a lockdown check and in the city of Nice the CRS riot squad has been called in to conduct patrols in one area after disturbances on Friday.

The Unsa statement said the Interior Ministry had a duty to protect its staff, describing the current situation as “scandalous”.

“With no protection: no lockdown controls, no fines issued, no reception in police stations”, the union declared.

One police officer in Hendaye told Le Figaro newspaper “I stop and check people all day without the protection I need and in the evening I go home to my little flat to my wife and children who can't even hug me – that's my life at the moment”.

Facemasks requisitioned
Stocks of face masks are low and 1.2 million masks stored in the interior ministry were recently requisitioned for use by medical staff. Following a video conference last week, the idea of washable masks which can be worn all day, along with Perspex eye and faceguards is now being pursued.

Those in violation of lockdown rules are fined 135 euros or 1500 euros if it is the second violation within 15 days. Anyone found in violation four times within 30 days can be fined 3,700 E jailed for up to six months. A man in the Loire region received a 4 month sentence yesterday.