Hi, I’m Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt and I am the Gold commander for Thames Valley Police’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I want to start by saying how much I and all of my officers appreciate how the vast majority of our communities are understanding of the importance of staying at home to protect our critical NHS resources and save lives, so thank you.
Given that, we can understand how frustrating it must be when you look around and see what you perceive to be people not following these guidelines as you have been at no small sacrifice to you and your way of life.
We are receiving hundreds of reports every day relating to COVID related breaches and over the last 7 days alone we have deployed officers to over 1100 incidents.
We must prioritise incidents as they come into us and that includes putting these reports alongside our normal calls for service including serious crime and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls. It is essential that we continue to protect our communities in line with our normal policing duties.
Where we have deployed for COVID-related reports, these are primarily to group gatherings that are happening at that time. That is because they pose the greatest health risks by gathering and then dispersing back into our communities. If you see this and it is happening now, call 101.
With minor breaches, such as people reporting those who have taken multiple walks in a day, we may not be responding right there and then but that doesn’t mean we are ignoring them. Your reports help to provide vital information around patterns and hotspots which then go across to our local policing teams to inform their patrol plans. Please report minor breaches to us online.
We want to make sure we are visible, provide reassurance and be a deterrent to those who think these rules don’t apply to them. Encouraging or enforcing the social distancing measures is a priority for the force and we have dedicated patrols in place to do this. We keep this under constant review and where we need to apply more resources we have done that and will continue to do so.
Please be reassured that Thames Valley Police is playing its role in this public health emergency. To reiterate the Chief Constable’s message this week, we will always look to engage, explain and encourage people to comply but where we need to we will enforce – and we have been doing that. Thames Valley Police currently has issued the second highest number of fines in the country.
Thank you again for all that you are doing at this challenging time. You really demonstrate the community spirit of Thames Valley, an area we are so proud to police.
Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt, Gold Commander