Boris Johnson warned ‘rule of six’ to fail as serious flaw threatens COVID-19 strategy

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Boris Johnson has been warned the police will not be able to always enforce the new social distancing rule of six because of a lack of extra officers. The Prime Minister pledged to introduce an extra 20,000 officers to the force but recruitment and training efforts have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) John Apter told Good Morning Britain: “Let me manage expectations. We don’t have lots of extra police officers. 

“We’re already trying to manage extra demands, we will not be able to attend every call.”

Mr Apter also urged the Government to provide both the force and the public with additional guidance on how to best enforce the rule as he forecast quick-acting legislative changes will become the norm over the next few months.

The PFEW chair warned suggesting people they should report their neighbours if they breach the new guidance would affect the relationship the officers have with some members of the public.

He continued: “We should have more guidance. Well, maybe we should have guidance because we haven’t had any yet.

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“I completely understand this is because this is a fast-moving situation, I think the changes of legislation are going to become the norm over the future.

“It is a complicated situation but my colleagues are on the frontline trying to interpret this law, trying to educate and work with the public, and they are now being accused of asking them to snitch on their neighbours.

“If households, if they genuinely believe there is a serious public health risk – and I’m thinking of large parties, and we have to nip that in the bud, those who are willfully breaking the law.

“When a neighbour thinks another neighbour might have breached the rule in a minor way, certainly I’d have a conversation with my neighbour.”

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The ruel of six came into force on Monday across England with some differences in Wales and Scotland, and requires Britons to meet no more than six people indoors.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse confirmed the Government is still seeking to establish a reporting mechanism suitable for the situation as he suggested people should report any breach of the regulation through the non-emergency 101 number.

Mr Malthouse said: “We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be, but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to.

“It is open to neighbours to do exactly that through the non-emergency number, and if they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing, then absolutely they should think about it.”

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