I know personally the seriousness of the situation, as I am now having to self-isolate for two weeks after my wife developed symptoms of coronavirus.
Last night’s announcement from the Prime Minister means police forces across the country will have to do something they have never previously needed to take responsibility for – enforcing a lockdown to ensure the virus does not spread and the public are kept safe.
Dorset Police will now step in to fulfil this role, as that is what the public expects. But let me be clear – British policing, unlike policing in some other countries, is founded on respect and engagement with the public.
The new measures may seem severe, but they are absolutely vital. Both Chief Constable James Vaughan and I are confident that people will listen, and abide by the new restrictions. We know the public of Dorset, and we know they understand just how important this is.
I know many of you out there are worried about what the next few weeks and months have in store, but I would like to reassure you that Dorset Police will be able to deal with any challenges that might come along.
The scale of the coronavirus outbreak, and its impact on day to day life for every one of us, is unprecedented. But there are robust plans in place to deal with any eventuality, and I know from my regular meetings with the chief constable and other senior officers that the residents of Dorset are in the best possible hands.
Our local force is well-led, well-organised and full of dedicated, professional individuals who are passionate about keeping people safe. More than ever, this will continue to be the case as we cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
I’m continuing to work with senior officers, making sure the force carries on its vital work of protecting people, preventing crime and keeping people safe.
Our county is well known for having an older population, as well as more isolated rural communities, and one of my main priorities has always been to look after the most vulnerable in society.
The police play a role in making sure these people are safe, but during the current crisis we need everyone to look out for each other – particularly elderly neighbours who are having to self-isolate.
I know how worrying self isolation is, and know it must be far worse if you are on your own.
But as a country we step up when the going gets tough. History proves that time and time again, and now we must all step up to look after our family, friends and community.
Sadly, with nearly half of all crime now taking place online, we know there are cyber criminals out there who are trying to take advantage of the crisis to exploit these vulnerable people. Information about these can be found on actionfraud.police.com and more detailed advice will be issued by my office over the next few days – please be aware that these scams are operating and if possible warn older relatives to be careful.
It’s vital that we all play our part in reducing the spread of the virus, so please follow the advice from Public Health England. Continue to wash your hands regularly, practice social distancing and self-isolate if you are experiencing any symptoms.
And although the Government, public health and local authorities are the main sources of information in this rapidly changing situation, the police can and will also keep you updated when necessary – so if you haven’t already, please sign up for Dorset Alert – the free service which will give you updates about policing initiatives in your area.
Stay safe, stay strong, protect our NHS and respect the lockdown.
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