December 26, 2020 9.29 am This story is over 41 months old

Reflections 2020: Keith Hunter – Policing the pandemic with community confidence

Humberside PCC Keith Hunter reflects on local policing in 2020

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By Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner

2020 has certainly been a year like no other. A year ago, if someone predicted a worldwide pandemic would send our country into a lockdown, the likes of which has never been experienced before, even in wartime, that tens of thousands would die as a result, the economy, businesses and jobs would suffer greatly and we would all be wearing masks and distancing ourselves from others, it would have been hard to comprehend and probably dismissed as a fantasy.

The truth, however, was very real and will take years to fully recover from. We should all recognise the struggle that so many have faced, and are facing at this time and reflect on the pain suffered by those who have lost loved ones before their time to this new, cruel and horrible disease.

The NHS has been stretched to breaking point and managed the brunt of the storm magnificently, like the true heroes they are. In the area I represent the public in, Policing and Community Safety, there have also been many challenges and police officers and staff have worked tirelessly to keep us all safe. The police are always busy, and the addition of new guidelines and restrictions on public freedom for them to deal with has only increased their workload.

My role as Police and Crime Commissioner for the Humberside Police area is to represent the public to the police, and hold them to account for their performance and service. I have been clear from the start to our Chief Constable Lee Freeman, that from a strategic perspective, a key aim should be to maintain the confidence of all our communities and ensure the public see the policing style and application as a legitimate response, done with communities and not against them. The Force have adopted that approach in applying the national policing guidance of Engage, Explain, Encourage and, as a last option, Enforce, with the knowledge that policing cannot ensure compliance simply through prosecution.

Many people think the Government has been right in its decisions at every step and that they are trying their best. Others accept the Government are trying their best but believe their best isn’t good enough for the scale of crisis we face. Some question the motives of the Government’s decisions and there are some who believe we have taken entirely the wrong approach to dealing with the pandemic.

These varying opinions are growing more entrenched as time passes, which is potentially problematic as what most would agree on is that if we are to limit the effects of the pandemic to the greatest extent, we do need a consistency of approach, but also of application. That means that whatever rules and laws are enacted in an attempt to contain the virus, the best chance we have of the approach being successful is that we all stick to those rules and laws. Voicing the view that the rules won’t work, and then ignoring them, is a self-fulfilling prophesy from which real suffering will undoubtedly follow.

This Christmas and New Year celebration period has been a very different one, with families unable, in many cases, to be with each other as they would wish. As we look toward 2021, there is hope on the horizon with the Covid vaccines becoming available and the prospect of our lives returning to some kind of normality, which is what everyone desiresRe.

We will get through this together if we work together. If we don’t do that, the journey will be longer and harder than it needs to be. I wish you all a safe and peaceful New Year.

If 2020 was a brand, what would its tag line be?

“2020, when expertise became valued again”