Southwark Police’s Borough Commander has hit out at the ‘staggering examples of selfishness and stupidity’ by a growing number of lockdown rule breakers.
As the News reported last week, Southwark and Lambeth officers are now responding to an average of 35 COVID-19-related incidents per day.
Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove, the Central South Basic Command Unit Commander – which covers Southwark and Lambeth – told the News that the Met had issued more fines in the last few weeks than during the entire of 2020.
Describing the situation as ‘critical’, Wingrove said: “We have two large hospitals that provide accident and emergency care and the staff that support them are being run ragged with the sheer number of people that they are caring for.
“Our ambulances are experiencing delays, in large part due to the high levels of COVID.
“The Met is supporting the London Ambulance Service with 75 officers who will be driving some of the ambulances to emergency calls across London.
“The rules are clear and we are thankful that most people are staying at home as much as they can, wearing masks and avoiding gatherings.
“However, a small, selfish minority continue to bend, break and in some cases completely ignore these rules and in doing so endanger us all.”
He said police did not want to fine people but had to crack down on what he described as “staggering examples of selfishness and, quite frankly, stupidity’’ since Christmas.
In one week in January police had to deal with an illegal rave in Page’s Walk, Bermondsey, issue five COVID-related fixed penalty notices, and arrest two people – one for knife possession and another for supplying Class A drugs.
Enforcement action against businesses has focused on the ‘most dangerous and wilful breaches’, with six prohibition notices issued to Southwark businesses in just one day in the week leading up to January 22.
In a message to readers, he said: “You’ll realise that every time officers have to tackle people for COVID breaches, or indeed other crime and anti-social behaviour, they put themselves, and their families at increased risk from this deadly disease.
“I know you’ll join me in thanking them for their professionalism, dedication and commitment.”
His appeal came as Southwark Police issued a statement urging people to only make essential journeys, highlighting large numbers visiting London Bridge at the weekend.
In a video posted on Friday, Superintendent Daniel Ivey said too many people were descending on the area at the weekends – and warned they could pay the price.
“People need to stay at home,” he said. “We are out tonight at London Bridge with our local authority partners, where we will be enforcing the health protection regulations.
“Where we need to we will be issuing fixed penalty tickets.
“These help us to help protect the NHS and save lives.”
We've seen an increasing number of people visiting the #LondonBridge area, especially on weekends.
The rules are clear – only leave home for essential reasons.
Officers will be out this weekend ensuring rules are being adhered to & issuing fixed penalty notices where needed. pic.twitter.com/IEfc5Vx4Xi
— Southwark Police (@MPSSouthwark) February 5, 2021