We invited Paul Crowther, CBE, Chief Constable, British Transport Police to analyse the impact of 2020 and look forward to 2021:
This year has been like no other with the challenges presented to policing by the coronavirus pandemic.
From the outset we had to react quickly and flexibly to the crisis presented by COVID-19 and adapt our policing posture to meet the new demands that were being made of us.
As the pandemic has developed, the big challenge we have faced is balancing increasing demand to deliver our core policing responsibilities alongside the continuing need for our Covid response. By the end of September, the number of incidents on the rail network and the number of calls for our services were at 85 per cent and 72 per cent of pre-lockdown levels respectively. Simultaneously, we were responding to industry calls for support in ensuring the compliance of the face covering regulations.
Our delivery of core policing responsibilities across Great Britain has continued and we’ve also successfully supported Government and the rail industry in securing high levels of face covering compliance through a combination of intelligence-led deployment and extensive data gathering and analysis. Our officers have engaged with thousands of rail passengers about the need to wear a face covering at locations we identified based on intelligence we gathered with rail industry partners, achieving voluntary compliance rates of up to 90 per cent in some areas. As of 8 October we have engaged with nearly 60,000 passengers, directed over 4,000 to leave services when they refuse to wear a face covering, and we have issued over 100 fixed penalty notices. In September our officers carried out a week of nationwide action to tackle organised drug gangs using the railway, arresting 80 people and seizing Class A drugs, weapons and illicit cash.
Despite these uncertain times the priority of policing and security services will undoubtedly continue to be protecting the public and safeguarding the vulnerable. However, I think additionally it’s important that we recognise the unrelenting commitment and contribution from our workforce and the extra demands that have been made of them. Safeguarding our workforce to withstand this long period of unprecedented societal controls will be key in equipping us all for the challenges that lie ahead.
Paul Crowther, CBE, Chief Constable, British Transport Police
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