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'We didn't want these Covid powers': Chief Constable on police's 'damaged' reputation

20 July 2021, 11:27

By Fiona Jones

Chief Constable Nick Adderley told LBC that the police's reputation has been "damaged" during the pandemic, and explains why this is the case.

During the last 16 months, police officers have had heightened media attention, and have haqd to sanction members of the public in a way never before seen.

Whether that be encouraging people not to stand too close to one another, sending punters on their way during the 10pm curfew, or being involved in "ugly scenes" during protests.

In this timeframe emotions were heightened and emphasis was placed on the behaviour of the police. George Floyd's murder by former officer Derek Chauvin in the US was a landmark moment, sparking Black Lives Matter protests worldwide.

Another tragic death occurred at the hands of a police officer, as Wayne Couzens pled guilty to the rape and murder of Sarah Everard when she was walking home. This sent an outpouring accounts from women about their own terrifying experiences and brought male violence to the forefront of the national conversation.

Read more: 'She was just walking home': the impact of Sarah Everard's murder

Chief Constable Adderley told listeners, "These are powers that we never wanted and we never wanted to enforce. They have been necessary to protect the national health service and protect people.

"I think the reputation has been damaged, we've done our best to try and balance the debate and the argument, and try and allow people the freedoms they should enjoy but within the restrictions placed through Covid.

"Every individual has an obligation as do we to keep people safe and protect the NHS."

The Chief Constable said that as he understands it, the vast majority of the public support the police, "it is a small minority who saw this as an opportunity to fight back against the authorities and had no cognisance of the consequences of not following those rules."

On Monday the police made a string of arrests at an anti-vaccination protest in London as anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters caused mayhem outside the Houses of Parliament.

Footage posted on social media showed bottles being thrown towards police, as protesters chanted "shame on police" and "arrest Boris Johnson" as the demonstration moved from Parliament Square up to the gates of the Palace of Westminster.