A message from the Fishponds neighbourhood policing team
By Sergeant Andrew Bradshaw
I THINK that it would be hard to argue against the fact that these are very surreal times indeed. The country is in lockdown. We are unable to see family and friends as we did not so long ago.
We queue at the few shops which remain open, we keep our distance from those around us and, for many, there is an overwhelming sense of isolation and fear.
A deterioration in mental health as a direct result of our current situation is a reality, and with the prospect of things carrying on like this for a prolonged period, there is an enormous sense of uncertainty and anxiety in our communities.
Policing during the COVID19 outbreak has presented new challenges for us.
The Government has introduced legislation to deal with those breaching the current restrictions, and we find ourselves treading a fine line between enforcing the law where necessary, while at the same time maintaining our relationship with, and the co-operation of, the communities we serve. Our Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, emphasised the fact that we cannot enforce our way out of this. I share this view entirely. At some point, this outbreak will end, and we will continue to police and serve these same communities when a new normality comes. Engagement, explanation and education are key to maintaining and enhancing a positive relationship with the public.
At Fishponds, my team are putting this ethos into practice on a daily basis on our streets and in our public spaces. At the end of our shift, we too return to our homes, either to family, or to isolation alone. We are subject to the same restrictions, and we understand what people are going through. We understand why people want to spend time outside enjoying the fabulous weather with friends or loved ones. We understand the need for human and social contact; for exercise and fresh air, particularly for those who do not have the benefit of a garden or open space at home.
My team of police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) here at Fishponds have engaged with hundreds of people over the past few weeks, spending much of their time in Eastville Park, Barton Fields, Vassalls Park and the Oldbury Court Estate. I am proud of the fact that, as a team, we have issued just two fixed penalty tickets to individuals intent on defying the current restrictions. I am also proud of our communities who have responded positively, respectfully and with good humour to our approach of engagement, explanation and education, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your assistance in making our job a little easier over recent weeks.
We all look forward to the day when we will be free of the current restrictions; to meet our friends and families as we please and to enjoy our wonderful parks and open spaces freely. Until then, we will continue to support the communities we serve, and of which we are part.
Stay home and stay safe.
Picture: Mounted police officers, on police horses Mendip and Somerset, supporting the neighbourhood police team patrolling Eastville Park.