Home Office and MHCLG detail £60m coronavirus policing package

Law-enforcement funding targets boosted town-centre visibility and compliance checks
Yui Mok/PA

By Jim Dunton

08 Oct 2020

Police forces and councils across England and Wales have been given details of the “surge funding” they will receive to pay for extra officers in town centres and environmental health enforcement work to crack down on people and businesses who flout rules to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The funding from the Home Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is worth £6.8m to the Greater London Authority, £1.7m to Greater Manchester, and £678,000 to South Wales, but just £205,000 to Warwickshire.

The Home Office said the cash will enable police to increase patrols in town centres and ensure that people are complying with the new restrictions, particularly in high-risk areas. Officers will also provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test & Trace to enforce self-isolation requirements.

MHCLG said councils would use their share of the funding to step-up compliance work and enforcement checks on businesses, helping inspectors such as environmental-health officers to follow the latest guidelines, carry out inspections, issue fines and close rogue firms.

Home secretary Priti Patel said the vast majority of the British public had come together, followed the law and helped to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and that a “small minority of people” would not be allowed to reverse the nation’s “hard won” progress.

“This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences,” she said.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said the £60m package would be split equally between police and local council services in the areas it related to, and that councils could use the funding to support the work of the “marshals”, “stewards” and “ambassadors” some areas had introduced.

“Councils play a crucial role in protecting people’s safety, supporting businesses and helping the public to better understand the guidance,” he said. 

“This new funding will ensure they can step this up further and continue to act proactively.”

Nesil Caliskan, who chairs the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, praised the government’s decision to give councils flexibility on how the surge funding was spent. 

But she said the allocations were not a long-term solution for councils’ regulatory services, which had been pushed to “tipping point” by the pandemic.

“As local authorities continue to lead local work to tackle Covid-19, the government needs to use the Spending Review to ensure councils have enough funding to maintain vital trading standards and environmental health services over the next six months and beyond,” she said.

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