English streets were "like party central" as pubs reopened, says Police Federation boss

5 July 2020, 10:47 | Updated: 5 July 2020, 10:53

By Seán Hickey

The head of the Police Federation said bars were unable to cope with the numbers of people out last night, which led to streets overflowing.

John Apter is the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales and he was on duty in Southampton last night after pubs, restaurants and hairdressers in England reopened yesterday.

He spoke to Andrew Castle to share his account on what happened on the streets yesterday as people went to the pub for the first time in three months.

"Early on in the evening the public were sensible but as the evening progressed...the alcohol took hold" he told Andrew. He said that police services were also stretched in Southampton, as police "were dealing with a whole host of other 999 calls" while monitoring the situation outside pubs.

Andrew sympathised with the police federation chief, asking what scenes in Southampton were like.

"A large proportion of pubs were not open which meant there was more pressure on the ones that were" Mr Apter said.

He commended the work of bar staff but said that many of the issues were out of their hands. "Whilst they were trying to do their best inside the pubs, outside it was like party central.

The chair of the Police Federation said that pubs couldn't cope with the amount of people out last night
The chair of the Police Federation said that pubs couldn't cope with the amount of people out last night. Picture: PA

"There were just hundreds of people gathering and it was just so difficult."

He told Andrew that "it was a tough late shift but we got through it." Andrew wondered if bars opening on Monday have been better for the forces, which he had heard previously would have been a great help.

Mr Apter said that police were looking for "support and help" from the government, which didn't come as pubs opened at the busiest time of the week.

"A few people were saying that this was perfect timing because people were saying 'I've just been paid'" the boss of the Police Federation said, suggesting that because of timings like this, the date of reopening was a poor decision.

He was quick to insist that "the majority of people were sensible" but unfortunately, the police oftentimes are only met by the irresponsible ones.

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