Police Federation hits back after calls for stricter enforcement of Covid rules

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland says the PSNI cannot be expected to carry the burden of Covid-19 enforcement alone.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:28 am
Updated Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:30 pm

Chairman Mark Lindsay was speaking after a health paper suggested Justice Minister Naomi Long should oversee plans to see over 80% of Northern Ireland comply with wearing Covid face masks.

Ms Long responded that the proposal was “entirely inappropriate”.

Stormont Ministers are due to discuss the document today. The Department of Health has warned that unless infection rates decrease significantly in the next three weeks, more “severe” restrictions could be enforced before Christmas.

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Christmas shoppers wearing face masks in Belfast last year. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay MBE, weighed into the debate this morning, saying police cannot be expected to solely carry the burden of Covid-19 enforcement.

Mr Lindsay said: “Organisations other than the police have responsibilities to uphold the legislation. The smoking ban is largely enforced by the retail and entertainment sectors.

“Only on very rare occasions are police called in to deal with breaches of the peace where people wilfully ignore the instruction from staff. The same should apply to Covid regulations.

“There is a collective responsibility by Ministers to deliver on enforcement. Efforts to make the Department of Justice the main enforcement department are misplaced. Others, too, such as public transport and entertainment and retail sectors must work in unison to deliver effective enforcement.

“There will always be a place for police officers should matters escalate and intervention is necessary to support staff, but they cannot be expected to carry the burden alone.

“Only concerted, joined-up action will deliver for the entire community. Anything short of that will fail to deliver the desired outcome.”

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