We’re now a week into our second lockdown and we have had to adapt to living with more stringent restrictions again.
I know many of us were disappointed to go back into another lockdown, especially for many of our businesses, but I do welcome the Government’s decision as we need to desperately slow the transmission rate so our NHS can cope.
As with the first lockdown and the restrictions over the summer, the chief constable and his team have my full support in handling the coronavirus regulations and keeping our communities safe.
Avon and Somerset Police has established a dedicated Covid-19 team to attend reports of breaches of the emergency regulations. The team, which was created from the extra funding provided by the Government, will allow officers to concentrate on dealing with reports coming in and proactively police areas where problems previously occurred.
This lockdown already feels different for many reasons; schools remain open, more shops are open, we are not restricted by the number of times we can exercise outdoors and those living alone can still see their social bubbles.
However, compared to the lockdown back in March, the days are colder, the nights are darker and we’re approaching the festive season so there is a real temptation to flout the rules to see loved ones.
We cannot let this happen; this is an opportunity to lessen the impact of the virus and it will be hampered if we do not follow the most recent regulations. We know how lockdown works and we must do the right thing.
The chief constable and I will continue to hold our regular Facebook Lives to answer your questions about coronavirus and policing, so please do visit my social media to find out when the next webchats will be: Facebook (AandSPCC) and twitter (@AandSPCC).
Another lockdown is scary and uncertain for many of us but especially those who are in domestic abuse environments. I cannot stress enough that household isolation instructions such as lockdown or self-isolating do not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
I fear that victims and survivors think that restrictions mean they cannot leave their house and, therefore, the dangerous environment they find themselves in.
This is not the case. You do not have to stay in a dangerous household, relationship or environment, and we will always encourage victims and survivors to come forward and seek help.
My team and I will continue to work alongside local victim services to ensure advocacy, emotional and psychological support is being provided. Such support is being delivered remotely via phone, webchat and video chat, and their helplines remain active for those who want to access support. You do not ever need to suffer in silence, and officers and support services are still here to help you.
For more information on local support services, visit: www.thisisnotanexcuse.org/.
Sue Mountstevens is the police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset
Main photo by Ellie Pipe