WEST MIDLANDS POLICE is redeploying specialist officers to key locations in Coventry and Solihull, including hospitals and supermarkets, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officers from the Specialist Football Unit, Birmingham Airport Unit and some traffic police have been moved to other roles to “to provide reassurance and a visible presence.”
Other officers from Operational Planning – normally busy preparing for major events like protests, festivals or music concerts – are now helping police plan their “ever-evolving response to the coronavirus”.
Police will be reinforcing the government’s instruction to stay at home to stifle the spread of the disease and save lives, says the force.
The force is urging people to only head outdoors to buy essential food or medical supplies, for exercise or to help vulnerable people.
And with some training temporarily on hold, police says specialists like firearms instructors are now supporting armed police on the streets.
Superintendent Beth Bridges from West Midlands Police’s Operations department, said: “These are unprecedented times and we are constantly reviewing all our policing activity to make best use of every single one of our officers.
“With far fewer vehicles on our roads we’re now tasking many of our traffic units to patrol key locations including shops and hospitals.
“And with less flights into and out of Birmingham we’ve also agreed with the airport to free up some PCs for patrols in Coventry and Solihull.
“The position has changed rapidly over the last couple of weeks and we’ve had to be flexible to ensure we’re helping the public as best we can.”
During the Covid-19 restrictions people are only allowed to leave home for the following very limited purposes:
• Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
• One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of their household;
• Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
• Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home.
Officers are on patrol educating anyone who is unclear what is being asked of them and encouraging compliance with the government’s instruction.
But police now have powers to disperse groups, instruct people to go home, and issue fines to those who ignore advice and cause concern among communities.
“Please exercise common sense. We won’t be able to dispatch officers for minor infringements of the rules. Clearly mass gatherings of people is not a minor infringement and we would want to know about that so we can take appropriate action,” police say.
You can alert police to any serious compliance breaches by messaging on Live Chat via the West Midlands Police website, west-midlands.police.uk