November 10, 2020 5.16 pm This story is over 41 months old

“Don’t abuse COVID marshals,” Lincolnshire police chief warns

The first 10 are starting soon

A police chief has hit out at “disgusting” and “derogatory” comments people in Lincolnshire have made about the new COVID marshals initiative.

The marshals, or wardens, have been tasked with ensuring people follow social distancing in public spaces and that businesses are COVID-secure, but don’t have any powers to take enforcement action.

West Lindsey last week was one of the first in the county to introduce 10 such wardens, while other councils are still putting plans together.

However, several comments in response to West Lindsey’s announcement last week scorned the new role, comparing them to other notably disliked roles such as traffic (parking) wardens.

Some even warned the marshals could be subject to physical abuse.

Leann Elston commented: “Hope they get a good hiding… no-one likes a busybody.” Jake Smith said: “They be getting banged out poor guys.”

Lee Marsh added: “Well I certainly hope they are physically and mentally equipped to deal with the level of abuse that I have witnessed retail staff and other business owners have been subjected to.”

Chief Superintendent Paul Timmins. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Lincolnshire Police Chief Superintendent Paul Timmins, who is coordinating the county’s COVID-19 response, said: “I have seen one or two comments about COVID marshals which are pretty derogatory and quite disgusting really and are not what any of us wants to see.”

“COVID marshals are members of the public who are wanting to help us, as the authorities, to manage perhaps premises and people who perhaps aren’t sticking to the rules, and they should be seen in a really positive light as people who want to stand up and be counted.”

He added that the county’s responses also included police, trading standards and environmental health officers who have similar or greater powers.

“We’re absolutely behind the concept of COVID marshals and they’re fantastic resource for us to use,” said C/Supt Timmins.

“It’s a real positive for Lincolnshire, we’ve got some really great people who are working as COVID marshals.”